Balloons and sky lanterns are often released as a way of commemorating the passing of a loved one, marking a commercial event (product or event launch, attraction opening etc.), or fundraising event.

The Problem: Releasing sky lanterns and helium-filled balloons can have many environmental, social and economic impacts. Unexpired sky lanterns pose a significant fire hazard. Livestock and wildlife on both the land and sea can be lost as a result of ingestion of parts from sky lanterns and balloon debris. Entrapment and panic are also issues which may affect livestock and wildlife.

Image with a amazing alternative to balloons and lanterns - Blowing Bubbles What are the alternatives? There are many alternatives to balloon and sky lantern releases such as tree planting, flag flying, or even using giant bubbles! To avoid unintentionally littering with balloons, you can instead have fun, celebrate, and remember with environmentally-friendly alternatives. Click here for some great ideas.  To find out more about the effects of balloon and sky lantern releases and the many alternatives on offer, take a look at Marine Conservation Don’t Let Go.

What's happening already

Save Our Seals – Flying Rings Campaign

Along with balloons and sky lanterns, litter from lost or discarded flying rings can also injure wildlife such as seals. Please don’t take flying rings on the beach.  A flying ring is any type of throwing ring or frisbee, with a hole in the middle. They can easily get lost in water and end up as litter in the sea and on beaches. Young seals can get them stuck on their neck and as they grow, the rings cause injuries and sometimes death through infection and starvation. Click here to download the flying rings poster, make a pledge, and find out more.

*From 1 October 2023 there will be additional bans and restrictions on single-use plastic items in England. The ban includes Plastic Balloon Sticks, to  find out more click here.

*The Marine Conservation Norfolk Action Group have carried out research into balloon litter found on Norfolk beaches. In 2022 there were 132 balloons or balloon fragments found during Norfolk beach cleans. Read the full report here.

*Norfolk County Council has prohibited the release of sky lanterns or balloons on any land or property owned by the county council. The council has created this charter with the aim of encouraging businesses, communities, landowners and individuals to switch to alternative ways of celebrating and commemorating events, rather than using balloon or lantern releases.

For more on the county council commitments click here.

How can I get involved

Sign up to the Charter today

Businesses, organisations, schools, landowners and individuals can all sign up to pledge:

  • Not to release any types of helium-filled balloons and sky lanterns on your own property or land, including those that are made from bamboo or claim to be biodegradable.
  • To promote alternatives to the release of sky lanterns and balloons. Encourage others to celebrate events, using more environmentally friendly alternatives.
  • Lobby for a ban on intentional releases of balloons and sky lanterns

Sign up to the charter here.