Updated: Apr 23
Planning a party and wondering how to replace balloons with an eco-friendly option?
Here is a huge list of balloon alternatives to make any occasion greener with less trash.
Balloons cause many environmental problems including polluting waterways and harming wildlife.
They certainly add colour and a fun atmosphere to a party but there are much better ways to do this with a lower impact.
So whether you are going eco, zero waste or just want to party a little greener, this post will give you plenty of ideas for balloon alternatives.
(and yes I'm including a brilliant zero waste alternative to water balloons too!)
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Before we go any further, I want to mention 'eco-friendly' balloons.
If you have heard that latex balloons are a green choice, then please reconsider. There is yet to be proof that these breakdown properly and they still cause environmental problems.
Releasing any balloon is a form of littering and we should always avoid it.
You can read a little more on this issue in this article written by Eco Party Box and why we need to break up with balloons.
Marine animals do eat balloon litter and it is particularly troublesome when they still have the string attached. I am not going to go into all those sad stories here (you can look them up if you want to) because THIS is about what YOU can DO now and in the future.
And if you feel any guilt for balloons in your past - Don't! Because when we know better, we do better!
Let's Rethink The Purpose of Balloons
Rethinking the purpose of balloons, or why we want to use them will help you find the best option. Is it to:
>Play party Games
>Identify the 'Party is Here'
>Promote a brand or business
>Remember a loved one
Whatever your reason, I bet there is another way to do it that doesn't revolve around balloons.
Remember, the world still promotes balloons as fun, essential to children's parties and celebrations. It is taking us humans a while to catch on and take better care of our planet.
In my opinion, any SINGLE-USE throwaway item needs a rethink and should be avoided as much as possible.
When we start to think of balloons as trash, we can start making a difference.
Psst...for remembering a loved one, consider planting a tree, floating flowers down a stream, making a donation in their honour or even name a star after them.
Eco-Friendly Alternatives To Balloons
There are so many options to decorating and having fun that just don't involve balloons at all.
And.....Before you think reusable helium balloons are a good choice, think again - helium is a limited resource, so I won't be encouraging their use either despite the fact many are reusable. (Tip: you can keep reusing them with ordinary air, they just wont float).
> Flags and Bunting
I LOVE bunting flags. They add instant colour, are reusable, quick to hang up and put away and can be used for all types of parties.
Flags don't have to be made of plastic either. Check out Etsy for handmade bunting made with fabric, hessian or gorgeous vintage lace.
Image: Handmade Reusable Fabric Bunting from Rosie Crafts Australia
My obsession with bunting makes me think everyone must love it. Let me know in the comments - Do you love or hate bunting? (if you hate it, I really need to know why!)
Banners work great for decorations at birthday's, graduations, going away parties and more. Use them for decorating walls and creating backdrops instead of balloons.
They're versatile, reusable and come in so many colours, shapes and designs.
This burlap banner below is a great example of one that can be customised and personalised for any event.
Image: Custom banner from Mu Creatives
> DIY Paper Chains
Paper chains bring back so many childhood memories and are simple to make at home.
You can easily match it to a colour scheme and even make them from newspaper / scrap paper too.
The video below will show you how to make them if you have never tried it before.
Tip: Store them in a cardboard box to protect them and reuse at your next party.
If they can't be reused, recycle or compost them.
>Paper Based Streamers
Crepe Paper streamers are another way to add bright colours to a party and the bonus is they are compostable!
Hang them up or use them for other purposes like decorating your lolly buffet (minus the straws 😉 )
Image from Pinterest
>Tissue Paper Pom Poms
Like crepe paper, tissue paper naturally biodegrades.
These can be attached to your front gate (instead of balloons) so people can find your party easily.
Due to their light weight, they can also be hung from the ceiling, walls or clustered together as pictured above for a colourful effect.
>Make Your Own Giant Pom Pom Garland
How cute is this pom pom garland!
Again, these are reusable and an effective way to decorate a party.
All the instructions are here and it looks incredibly easy. Use a yarn ball for each giant pom pom and you can start creating it in minutes.
Image from Merry About Town
> Upcycled Clothing Pom Poms
If buying balls of yarn isn't your thing, then why not use old clothing and t-shirts to make pom poms?
These take a little longer to do, but it's a great way to repurpose old fabric and create your own reusable, free party decorations.
Start by making t-shirt yarn and follow the tutorial from Craftaholics Anonymous.
Pom Poms make a fabulous balloon alternative.
> Hanging Flower Vases
For events that are a little more sophisticated than your kids 5th birthday party try flower vases.
Image from Eat Drink Chic
This was a beautifully styled backyard wedding. They may have purchased these decorations but it's something you can easily put together at home (assuming you have time of course).
Paper lanterns can be bright and colourful or an elegant addition to a celebration.
They can be found in all sizes and colours and of course are reusable many times.
Image from Joy Events
Personally, I think it's one of the best eco-friendly substitute to balloons because they are still round, colourful and can be suspended or arranged.
> Fabric Ribbon Garlands
Using scrap fabric or even new fabric, these ribbon garlands can be a cute touch to party decorations.
Image from Grey House Harbour
Choose the colour and patterns and you can be whipping these up in no time.
Here are the instructions to get you started.
>DIY Native Eucalyptus Garland
I love the use of native Australian flora and absolutely adore this Eucalyptus garland.
Perfect for a nature themed birthday party, Australia day celebrations or an engagement party.
You'll need a few items like florist wire, wire cutters , string and of course some small shoots of eucalyptus. Check out the instructions here.
> Felt Ball Garlands
Felt balls - They're round, colourful, durable, reusable and can be strung up anywhere.
This is far better than balloons, although making them yourself can require a bit of time and patience. (Mine never turn out perfectly spherical!)
This gorgeous wool felt garland below can be found at Orange Wagon
As for water balloons....
Crochet reusable water balloons are the bomb!
Dunk them into a bucket of water and you're instantly ready to win the balloon fight.
(You wont be polluting the environment OR cleaning up tiny pieces of balloons in your backyard for the next 3 weeks!)
The ones pictured below can be found here.
There are so many eco-friendly alternatives to balloons that are better for the planet.
I hope you found some great ideas to get you going on your balloon free endeavours.
Let me know what your planning to use at your next event.