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The Rubber Jellyfish Doco and how we got involved

Posted by Jonathan Hart on

Tina and Carly

Since we made our decision in 2014 to no longer sell balloons - due to the fact they harm the environment and wildlife - we have been waiting on more scientific research and organisations to expose balloons for their environmental impact.

Two years ago the CSIRO named balloon litter as one of the three most harmful items to marine wildlife, validating our decision.

But it was only last month that we found a trailer for the documentary film Rubber Jellyfish, which focuses on the dangers latex balloons pose to the environment and animal life. One danger being that balloons can fall to earth from the atmosphere shredded, which are then mistaken for jellyfish by endangered Sea Turtles.

Thinking it had already been produced and completed we contacted Carly Wilson, the film’s creator, to let her know that we would love to host a screening in Adelaide, to raise funds for a wildlife organisation.

Little did we know that the doco was not completed and at her suggestion she asked if we would we like to be in it, seeing as though we run a party store which doesn’t rely on balloon sales to keep it running.

We of course said yes and earlier this month she flew to Adelaide to film us and our online store.

Carly took a keen interest in the following questions:

  1. why do we no longer stock balloons?;
  2. what are the alternatives to balloons in our store?;
  3. what evidence did we have to support our decision on stop selling balloons?;
  4. what advice would we give to other party store owners who still sell balloons?

Our answers were:

  1. Because they pose a threat to wildlife and are harmful to the environment;
  2. Currently we stock a range of bunting and honeycomb tissue balls. But there is also activities such as plant and seed growing, rock painting, bubble blowing and more;
  3. We discovered the information claiming balloons biodegraded as “fast as an oak leaf” (which is around 4 years) was based on research conducted by the balloon industry and not data collected by an independent scientific body;
  4. We encourage other party store owners to sell reusable alternatives and perhaps the more that store is recognised for its dedication to the environment the more loyalty they may receive from their customers for doing the right thing by the environment.

Keep an eye out for Rubber Jellyfish due for release later this year. You can donate to Carly's project here.

Here’s the synopsis and trailer for the film:

Rubber Jellyfish is a feature length documentary about the effects of released helium balloons on ocean wildllife - in particular, Australia’s population of critically endangered sea turtles.

Carly examines the phenomenon that causes balloons to mimic the appearance of jellyfish, a prey that all sea turtles eat, when they rupture high in the earth’s atmosphere. She meets several turtles suffering from the excruciatingly painful and often fatal ‘float syndrome’ which is caused by the ingestion of balloons and other ocean rubbish.

Through the film Carly seeks to understand why and how the multi billion dollar balloon industry has led the public to believe that latex balloons are biodegradable and environmentally friendly despite ample evidence to the contrary. Through her investigative journey, she meets with marine biologists, turtle activists, reps of the balloon industry and policy makers to question why Australia has not taken action against mass balloon releases when it's waters host all six sea turtles on the CITES endangered species list.

Rubber Jellyfish Promo Trailer from carly.wilson@uq.net.au on Vimeo.