Campaigning to reduce litter and improve water quality in Dorset


Lanterns and balloons

What goes up must come down

Although it seems fun and beautiful to release balloons and sky lanterns to celebrate occasions, when they return to earth the resulting waste becomes litter. Releasing sky lanterns and helium filled balloons has been shown to have several environmental, social and economic impacts.

Key Issues

Fire Risk: Unexpired sky lanterns pose a documented fire hazard and a significant risk to the proper and effective operation of coastal rescue services.

Ingestion by Livestock/wildlife: There have been cases of livestock or other animal loss in both the terrestrial and marine environments as a result of ingestion of parts from sky lanterns and balloon debris. Entrapment and panic are also issues affecting livestock and wildlife.

Litter: Waste from balloons and lanterns contains plastic and other non-biodegradable materials that will remain in the environment for decades, causing pollution and unsightly litter.

Alternatives to Balloons

Helium balloons once released can travel miles and miles across the country. They often end up in rural countryside or in the ocean where animals can mistake them for food. There are so many better ways to celebrate including bunting and bubbles!

Sky Lantern and Balloon Release Policy

By working in partnership with Dorset Council we implemented a Sky Lantern and Balloon release policy.

This bans all balloon and lantern releases on Dorset Council land and leased land. It also covers events supported, financially or otherwise, by Dorset Council including those not on Council owned land. Through this policy Dorset Council will also call for the restriction of sky lantern and balloon releases by other landowners across Dorset. It will also carry out public communications dissuading the release of sky lantern and balloon releases by Dorset residents, visitors, businesses, and organisations and promote sustainable alternatives.


Fireworks not only scare the life out of your pets but also contain many components including nonbiodegradable plastics. Following a firework being launched, these components are dispersed over large areas before being displaced back down to both the land and sea. This often results in the debris not being collected by the display organisers, so the plastic and other material pollutes the local environment, harming wildlife, pets and humans. Litter Free are keen to work with event organisers to find ways to reduce the environmental impacts of firework displays.

Its Not Rocket Science!

Litter Free promote firework-free, fun bonfire nights using our campaign ‘It’s Not Rocket Science’.

How about joining in and tell us what you have planned this year whether that’s heading into the garden to enjoy sparklers, cooking up something super cosy or lighting up the living room instead! Use the hashtag #ItsNotRocketScience and share how your family have sparkled sustainably this year.

Some ideas to get you started…

• A fire pit in the garden with a mug of something mulled

• Toasting marshmallows and tucking into toffee apples

• A moonlit walk or stargazing (if the stars are out!)

• Creating a cosy feast full of comfort

• Get crafty with a window display to wow the neighbours

Additional Resources

Balloons Blow… Don’t Let Them Go! website

Ask an RSPB expert… the impact of balloons on wildlife

Don’t Inflate To Celebrate campaign

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