Cam­paigner wants bal­loons up and away

Fremantle Gazette - - NEWS -

LISA Hills is on a mis­sion to see the end of la­tex bal­loons.

The South Fre­man­tle res­i­dent said it all be­gan when she was walk­ing her dog on South Beach and found rem­nants of bal­loons on the beach.

“I passed a lo­cal store which used bal­loons to at­tract cus­tomers but I no­ticed the rem­nants in the road­way, washed on the road and into the drains,” she said.

“I con­tin­ued to pick up bal­loon par­ti­cles when a coun­cil worker told me that the bal­loons in the storm drains would be emp­tied into the ocean di­rectly across the road at the beach.

“I spoke to Fre­man­tle Coun­cil and they said I needed to raise com­mu­nity aware­ness and that’s when I formed Boy­cott Bal­loons Fre­man­tle.”

At a coun­cil meet­ing last month, the Mayor and the coun­cil­lors voted to be­gin a re­view to con­sider a pro­vi­sion for the City to con­trol the use and re­lease of gas-filled bal­loons in pub­lic places, re­serves, City-man­aged venues and beaches un­der the con­trol of lo­cal govern­ment.

Miss Hills said her over­all goal was to see an end to la­tex bal­loons.

“I am con­cen­trat­ing on see­ing an amend­ment made to the Lit­ter­ing Act that states that when a bal­loon is re­leased it be­comes lit­ter,” she said.

“You can be fined for lit­ter­ing by throw­ing a sin­gle cig­a­rette butt on to the ground but you can re­lease hun­dreds of bal­loons and that’s per­fectly ac­cept­able.”

Miss Hills, who is a vet­eri­nary nurse at Perth Zoo, said she knew the ef­fect ma­rine de­bris was hav­ing on an­i­mals af­ter see­ing the plas­tic re­moved from the in­testi­nal tract of a ju­ve­nile green sea tur­tle found in Shoal­wa­ter last year.

“Last year the Town of Cottes­loe had a lo­cal law ap­proved to ban the re­lease of he­lium bal­loons on the coun­cil land,” she said to show there had been some suc­cess in her cam­paign.

“It’s been dif­fi­cult get­ting the mes­sage across that bal­loons are not en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly as they are falsely mar­keted to be.

“Chem­i­cals are added to bal­loons to stop them from break­ing down, so they just break down over years into smaller bits of rub­ber; they don’t go away.”

Miss Hills has been in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Ceme­ter­ies Board, which is work­ing to­wards ed­u­cat­ing the pub­lic on me­mo­rial bal­loon re­leases. Leah Roberts

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