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Tuesday
Mar112008

Balloons are biodegradable!

Did you know that all latex balloons are entirely biodegradable? In our constant quest to find the most ec0-friendly products available, we came across this information from The Balloon Council.

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Taken from balloonhq.com:

Latex balloons are produced from the milky sap of the rubber tree, Hevea brasilliensis. The rubber tree originated in the tropical forests of South America and was taken to Europe from Brazil. It is now grown on plantations in many tropical countries. The latex is collected in buckets, as it drips from harmless cuts in the bark. The process is much like that used to collect maple syrup. The use of latex balloons and other products, such as surgical gloves, make rubber trees economically valuable, which discourages people from cutting them down.

Are latex balloons biodegradable?
Latex is a 100-percent natural substance that breaks down both in sunlight and water. The degradation process begins almost immediately. Oxidation, the “frosting” that makes latex balloons look as if they are losing their color, is one of the first signs of the process. Exposure to sunlight quickens the process, but natural microorganisms attack natural rubber even in the dark.

Research shows that under similar environmental conditions, latex balloons will biodegrade at about the same rate as a leaf from an oak tree. The actual total degradation time will vary depending on the precise conditions.

What happens to balloons that fly away?
Often latex balloons are released either on purpose or accidentally. Research shows that most of these latex balloons—the ones that are well-tied and have no structural flaws—rise to an altitude of about five miles, where they freeze, breaking into spaghetti-like pieces that scatter as they return to earth. While we do know that animals occasionally eat these soft slivers of rubber, the evidence indicates that pieces ultimately pass through the digestive system without harming the animal.

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Even though balloons may be biodegradable, we encourage all balloon lovers to dispose of their balloons wisely and to never litter!

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