Counting on …day 1.118

22nd May 2023

Sustainable living means not consuming more than can be replaced or replenished.
Helium is a light gas that once released escapes beyond the limits of earth’s atmosphere – and thus from our viewpoint becomes irreplaceable. Helium forms naturally through the radioactive decomposition and decay of certain elements such as uranium and thorium. The gas has thus formed either escapes directly into – and out of – our atmosphere, or else becomes trapped with in rock pockets. This latter is the gas that is extracted for commercial use – but the supply is limited. The gas cannot be artificially manufactured.

Long term or excessive use of helium is not sustainable. However helium gas is currently a critical part of the operation of MRI scanners. These two factors are good reasons why we should not waste helium to fill party balloons. An additional reason for avoiding party balloons is the damage to the environment caused by the remnants of balloons – even biodegradable ones can block drains, choke or poison birds and animals.

Are there alternatives to helium balloons? In terms of party declarations, bunting (paper or fabric) which can be reused and finally recycled, paper chains, paper balloons, banners – Google these and you’ll find a wealth of ideas.

Author: Judith Russenberger

Environmentalist and theologian, with husband and three grown up children plus one cat, living in London SW14. I enjoy running and drinking coffee - ideally with a friend or a book.

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