Sustainable Alternatives to Balloon Releases
May 13, 2020
Balloon releases are not so eco friendly

Sustainable Alternatives to Balloon Releases

Looking for more sustainable alternatives to balloon releases? Balloon releases are a fun way to celebrate a big event, mark an anniversary, or mourn a loss, BUT popped balloons have serious negative impacts on the environment.

13 alternatives to balloon releases by Salt lake Party Stylist

13+ Alternatives to Balloon Releases:

  • Bubbles
  • Kites
  • Wish Papers
  • Wind Socks
  • Fabric Flag Bunting
  • Luminaries
  • Confetti Toss
  • Powder Canon
  • Pinwheels
  • Origami
  • Float Flowers or Candles
  • Natural Boats
  • Plant a Tree
  • Memorial Garden

Blow Bubbles

Blow bubbles instead of releasing balloons

Blowing bubbles is a fabulous grief balloon alternative. Bubbles are safe, include everyone, and still retain the symbolism of hope rising to the sky. I recommend using this “unpoppable bubble” recipe for larger and longer lasting bubbles. When wearing cotton gloves you're able to catch and even bounce the bubbles.

To make sure it's 100% safe for the environment you'll want to use a good for the earth dishwashing liquid.

Fly Kites

Making and flying kites to honor loved ones who have passed is a wonderful alternative to balloon releases. For centuries kites have been used as a method of remembering the dead in Guatemala.

To use a kite for a celebration, simply take a kite you've purchased or made, and add drawings, decorations, and notes prior to flying. You can also tie streamer wishes to the kite string of a beautifully designed kite.

Light and Release Wish Papers

Flying wish paper makes a great alternative to balloon releases

Flying Wish papers are a safer alternative to floating lanterns. {read below to find out why floating lanterns, although magical, aren't the best choice} Simply write your wish, or prayer on the paper, roll it up, and light with match. Watch the paper burn as your wish floats up to the sky.

Flying wish paper makes a great alternative to balloon releases

*Floating paper ash will rise up so please do this OUTDOORS and be very safe with matches.

Fly Wind Socks

Outdoor wind socks are a more permanent alternative to balloon releases. Tie one with up with wishes and leave it for a birthday month, season, or year round if weather permits.

Hang Fabric Bunting or Flags

Prayer flag balloon release alternative

Buddhist monks have painted prayers on flags for centuries, allowing the flags to blow in the wind and prayers to be carried away on the breeze. Using a version of these Tibetan Prayer Flags or string of custom bunting you too can spread good will and compassion.

Light Luminaries

Paper bag luminaries create a magical sight in the evening. However, please only use battery operated candles to be safe! You can purchase bags with cutout designs, make your own, or use full lunch size paper bags with no decoration.

Toss Confetti

Biodegradable rice confetti showering bride and groom
Rice Paper Confetti Wands by Ultimate Confetti

Confetti tosses are a lovely sight and it's fun to get everyone involved. But as we've learned over the years, that historic wedding “rice toss” isn't so nice for the wildlife.

See this list for great biodegradable confetti options. And check out the options for rice paper confetti wands.

Plant Pinwheels

Child abuse prevention week blue pinwheel garden
Pinwheels for Prevention – Child Abuse Prevention Week

Have guests blow pinwheels then plant a garden of them in the lawn. Make your own pinwheels or buy in them bulk.

Powder Cannon

Plumes of green and blue power from cannons to celebrate

Powder cannons are often used for gender reveals but are a dramatic way to send any wishes skyward. Exploding in a burst of colorful powder each cannon is much safer than fireworks while creating a memorable moment for any event.

Create Origami

Folding origami is a therapeutic process. Once completed string each creation and display as a garland or curtain.

Float Flowers or Candles

Floating candles and flowers by Salt Lake Party Stylist

Flowers and candles are beautiful way to commemorate an event. Have guests light a candle or set a flower on water to take part in the celebration.

Flowers with a broad flat base are best for floating in water. Camellias, hollyhocks, gardenias, open roses, gerbera daisies and orchids are some of the best flowers for floating. Other less formal flowers include pansies, asters, and marigolds.

Faux floating flowers are also available, like these floating water lilies.

Design Boats from Natural Materials

Get out in nature and build boats from things you find. Then place a wish or prayer inside and float it down a stream, river, or across a pond.

Plant a Tree

Every tree you plant cleans the air, cleans our water, and provides a home to animals and insects. A tree planted in honor of a wedding, addition of a child, loss of a loved one, or to mark an anniversary can stand tall and proud for hundreds of years.

Learn how to properly plant your tree.

Prepare a Memorial Garden

Working in the soil is good for the soul, and the earth as it turns out! Start a container garden, build a raised bed, or till and plant your soil to beautify your surroundings. Choose plants and flowers to honor a loved one, herbs to mark a graduation, or vegetables to “feed” your new life together after a wedding.

Balloon Release Alternatives NOT To Use

Releasing birds: Birds like white doves are lovely at weddings but often are injured or killed before making it back to their owners, if they are able to return at all. Untrained domesticated birds aren't equipped to live in the wild and will eventually starve or be eaten by predators.

Releasing Butterflies: I'll admit, 16 years ago I released butterflies at my own wedding and it was beautiful! But even as I felt them flutter past me I knew they would most likely not make it in the natural world.

I hadn't done my homework and would definitely NOT do it again. Most butterflies will not be native and can damage existing butterfly populations. That is IF the butterfly can adapt to an unfamiliar temperature and climate.

Lighted paper lanterns: I'm enthralled with the idea of lighted paper lanterns. Romanticized in movies what's not to love? Well, fire for one thing.

Fire is extremely dangerous for nature and sending burning paper into the sky, as beautiful as it is, can cause serious repercussions for our natural world.

Alternatives to Balloon Releases

Eco friendly balloon release alternative by Salt Lake Party stylist

Did you find any great alternatives to try out instead of a balloon release? I'm excited to build boats, blow bubbles, make pinwheels, and plant trees with my family as we celebrate joyous occasions and mourn the passing of loved in years to come.

I hope that you and your family will join me in a great celebration that is also better for the environment!

If you try one of these alternatives please share and tag us @partieswithacause on Facebook and Instagram. We love seeing all your hard work!

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Eco friendly alternatives to balloon releases for memorial day

Additional Eco Friendly Party Ideas


    • Brianna Adams

      I thought that one was super fun too! I kind of want to try them all! Thank you.

  1. Elise Laney

    I love bubbles or streamer sticks (stick with ribbon on the end!)

    • Brianna Adams

      We’ve made streamer sticks for parades and such. That’s a great idea to use at a memorial event as well. Thank you!!

  2. Amanda

    These are such incredible ideas, thank you so much for putting the work in to think of, research, and share them!

    • Brianna Adams

      You are so welcome! It’s been something on my mind for a while now and I’m so happy to share it with all of you!

  3. Natalie Mayhew

    Oh I am so keeping this post! Totally inspired, so many options!

    • Brianna Adams

      Thank you so much Natalie. I hope it comes in handy in the future!

  4. Lori

    Such great ideas Bri!! I love hem all but that powder cannon is so cool!! My boys would still love that one!!

    • Brianna Adams

      I love that one too! I’m trying to figure out a good excuse to buy one!

  5. Jackie, Sprinkles & Confetti

    Oh my goodness! I love this post, as I fill more and more balloons right now I love the joy they bring but worry about some environmental downsides even though they are biodegradable. Love the additional ideas you’ve shared!

    • Brianna Adams

      I’m so glad it inspired you. Balloons are so fun and totally fine to use if you know all the info. But there are lots of other ways to be festive too.


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Gingerbread houses in a row as table runner centerpiece for a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party I’m Bri of Parties With A Cause. I’m a mother to three crazy awesome kids, interior designer, & party planning junky. I love reading, globe trotting, and frozen yogurt. And I’m elevating the party experience one cause at a time! Read More

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