McDonald’s Balloons

Sometime it is blatantly obvious where litter has come from. On my walk home after my morning run I was picking up litter from the path in the park, mostly drinks bottles and crisp packets, but then I came across this Happy Meal balloon.

McDonald’s have certainly tried to clean up their act a little. Organic milk, British beef, cardboard packaging and biodegradeable balloons, apparently.

This is what they say about balloons on their website:

We are aware of the potential harm that balloons may cause in coastal areas to marine wildlife, as well as the additional litter generated when they are irresponsibly discarded or released. We have worked with our suppliers to ensure that all balloons are made from bio-degradable material, in order to limit the longer term damage, but unfortunately, this does not prevent the immediate impacts that balloons have on the local environment, and especially beaches.

We believe that by replacing helium balloons in coastal restaurants with stick balloons will help our customers have greater control over their disposal, and minimise the unplanned environmental consequences of a travelling helium balloon. We have also increased the anti-litter messaging printed on the balloons.

It goes on to say that they are “Looking after the environment”.

While a small(ish) piece of balloon might not seem a lot, the brightly coloured material is a draw for some animals and children. As a child I remember my mother being paranoid about balloons and worrying that I would inhale the rubber and suffocate. I didn’t but other animals have. Needlessly. Just so some kid can have a bright balloon with their meal for 30 mins. Really?

Of course, this is nothing to the mess outside the McDonalds itself or in the nearby park on a Sunday morning. Those people on their way home from the pub seem to have no grasp of the purpose of a bin. But most of that litter is not immediately dangerous. The balloons are.

I’m sending the photo to McDonalds. It won’t do any good but over time if they receive enough, maybe.

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