PALAWAN, Philippines – Zero waste advocacy group EcoWaste Coalition on Saturday, November 17, slammed the balloon releasing activity during the kickoff ceremony of the 4th Mimaropa Festival, saying it was “no laughing matter,” as it harms marine animals.
“While it may provide spectators a few seconds of fun and cheer, releasing balloons into the air is no laughing matter, especially for marine animals who bear the brunt of this wasteful practice,” the group’s zero waste campaigner Daniel Alejandre told Rappler over email.
The release of balloons signaled the opening of the 4th Mimaropa Festival on Thursday, November 15, in the host province Occidental Mindoro.
Alejandre explained that birds, fish, and turtles may mistakenly eat the remains of a balloon, which can block their digestive systems leading to hunger and death. Sea turtles, in particular, may die after becoming entangled in marine litter such as the string of a fallen balloon.
“The released balloons will take 6 months to 4 years to break down and can cause a lot of harm to aquatic creatures before they finally disintegrate,” he said.
For deliberately releasing balloons into the sky, he warned that people involved may be held liable for littering, an environmental offense under Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
“While the law does not explicitly mention it, we all know that a balloon, upon release, will deflate and go down as a [piece of] dangerous litter that can pollute the environment and harm marine animals,” the zero waste campaigner said.
Instead of releasing balloons to mark the opening of a festivity, the group encouraged organizers to go for eco-friendly alternatives such as beating drums and ringing bells.
“We hope the organizers will heed our call and next time opt for an eco-friendly way of kicking off the festivity,” Alejandre added.
Mimaropa Festival is an annual activity that aims to celebrate and promote the region’s tourism industry.
As of posting, Rappler has reached out to the organizers for a statement through their Facebook page. – Rappler.com