Alternatives to Balloon Releases

Picture of Joette Giardina

Joette Giardina

Mentor. Motivator. Speaker.

Alternatives to Balloon Releases

Being prepared with alternatives to balloon releases when a client calls requesting one is key in today’s environmentally concerned society. Set a policy for your business and have photos and pricing available so that any staff answering the phone, replying to emails or talking to customers are prepared for this conversation.

I feel educating clients is the #1 job of balloon professionals. Here is an example outside of release requests. A client asked for a helium filled balloon arch for the start of a charity walk. I inform them that helium arches are not as sturdy or durable as air filled on framing and the price for a 30 foot, swirl garland arch on a frame with delivery and strike is __________. I am now the expert. I’m letting them know what will work best in their situation. I’m prepared to also quote on an array of column designs instead of an arch, if they want it to go a long distance to be safer due to possible wind etc.

Back to alternatives to balloon releases.

The general public has a desire to lift messages or thoughts of their loved one through balloon releases. It’s a way of feeling they are honoring their loved ones after seeing releases for so many years. I still remember writing a note and tying it to a balloon camp. We put our address on them in hopes the person who found the note would mail us a response to let us know how far it had traveled (back in the 1980’s).

Now in today’s world, when people see that balloon, string and note on the ground it is seen as litter. And to many environmental groups, it is seen as a possible danger for wildlife. Part of the world’s perception has changed on what once was a very common practice.

Now as an industry, it is time for us to change how we handle those requests.

As a balloon professional, it is very important for each of us to do things in a responsible manner for the longevity of our industry. Part of that is educating our clients in best practices. Everyday we come into situations where we need to serve as the expert and suggest things to our client that are alternative ways to honor their loved ones memory.

When a potential client calls and ask if they can buy bulk balloons, or a Helium Rosary or any other item to be released into the air this is my response:

What is the purpose of your release?

When and where will it take place?

I then suggest other balloon items that can be created in remembrance of the loved one, or as a symbol of love without releasing it into the air as alternatives to balloon releases.

Examples include

Rosary Sculptures can be tethered to the ground and then removed by the balloon company at the end of a service after the family has left.

This tethered Rosary by Lisa Talip, A Balloon Creation Inc. was created for a memorial for two local students who died in a car crash due to fog. It blows in the wind and is lovely, but does not get released.

At a Celebration of Life service 2 wonderful sculptures and a wonderful story shared by Steven Jones of Balloon Designers, Seattle Washington. With his permission I am posting this story and photos.

This sculpture of a Lexus convertible was created for a “celebration of life” event honoring the memory of a man who was a cornerstone of Seattle business. The family had included us in part of their 50th wedding anniversary, so his loved ones thought it was only fitting to include more of our sculpture work at his memorial event. And given how much he loved his cars, they thought this was a fitting subject matter as part of his tribute.

The sculpture includes seats, and apparently at one point in the event, various family members actually jumped inside the car for photos! I still can’t believe how much damage they didn’t do to it when we returned to tear it down! LOL

From start to finish, Alexa Rivera and I built this in just under eight hours. We were “working without a net” as it were, since we had not built this vehicle before which accounted for the extra time. It’s all Quick Links, along with corresponding 5″ and 11″ rounds, and the only framework in the piece are four short poles that were hidden in the wheel wells to hold up the sculpture high enough to properly place the wheels. The real challenge here admittedly was getting it into the building…thank goodness the venue has a really wide stairwell or else we’d have had to bring it in pieces.

Ways to educate yourself, staff and clients about reducing balloons as a litter source

PEBA = Pro Environment Balloon Alliance. I found out about this organization founded in Australia while at World Balloon Convention 2018 in San Diego. About a month prior to WBC I had been contacted by an individual from a Turtle Group on the Coast of Florida asking me what my stance was on balloon releases, and asking why The Balloon Council and Pioneer Balloon Company was not doing more about this situation.

I realized that I had not taken an active role in something that is very important to my industry. At that time, I contacted Dan Flynn at Pioneer who serves on the Balloon Council and asked for the organization to work on development of a NEW awareness campaign and education for balloon professionals and the general public.

I did not expect this to happen overnight. I have also been in touch with Lorna OHara of The Balloon Council to let her know of people who would like to assist in the development of an education program in the US. This is not something to just put off for them to take care of alone, but for each of us to do our part.

While at WBC, I was able to talk with members of PEBA. Here is their website. I, as, and the company I am marketing director for, Party People Events, have both signed the PEBA Members commitment, and I encourage you to read it. If it is something you agree with to, do the same. No matter where in the world you live, environmental concerns spread world wide with social media in an instant.

PEBA Facebook Page

Now the ball is in your court. What will your answer be when your customer asks for a release?

I would love to hear your ideas for different alternatives to balloon releases.

When you create a sculpture that is not released into the environment and is used for a memorial or celebration of life service please share with me at and share on Facebook.

I envision lovely crosses adorned with balloon flowers, balloon wreaths, lovely organics, sculptures to honor the loved of ones favorite things or color.

One other note about balloon releases. In the areas where they are still legal (and if you do choose to do them), NEVER should the balloons be joined together. Unfortunately one of the most popular releases I have seen around the world is the floating Rosary beads. My father owned a small plane, and every time I see a floating Rosary released I say a prayer that a plane does not come in contact with those balloons and cause a crash due to release.

I always say, We do not now what we do not know. I I believe many people do not realize that type of release could harm a plane and bring it down, but now you do. So please consider joining PEBA and their mission. Educate your client on other alternatives to help save our industry.

Here are the cold hard facts. LAWS can change overnight and balloons can be banned from use. That is why PEBA was formed. There are parts of Australia that balloons cannot be used! Not just decor, but a twister cannot entertain children at events due to balloons being banned. It’s not just in Australia. April 6, 2018 New Shoreham, Rhode Island wrote a law prohibiting the sale and USE of balloon in their town! Here are the details

I have made my full time living from the balloon industry since 2003, and I LOVE the people in our industry. More than anything my passion comes from the JOY I see in my clients eyes when our team transforms an ordinary space into a memorable celebration. As far as I am concerned, there is no better feeling than making others feel special, loved and honored by creating a magical space for memories that will last a lifetime. We do not just sell balloons, we help our clients evoke emotions in others through amazing balloon decor.

Let us each take the time to educate ourselves, our clients and the general public on the proper disposal of balloons and alternatives to balloon releases to allow all people around the world experience the magic of balloons.

If you would like to hear direct from Chris Adamo, Ray Stewart & Zoe Jones on the details behind PEBA this is a free webinar they did with me April 9, 2018.

For more facts on not releasing balloons, please visit

Your Partner in Success,

Joette Giardina, CBA

Mentor. Motivator. Speaker.

Visit our website for Monthly Webinars and online and in person Training.

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