College To Have ‘Balloon-Free Graduation’

May 14, 2019 | 16 Comments

Bermuda College’s Commencement ceremony this Thursday will be slightly different, with the College saying they are “deliberately moving away from the use of traditional balloons as an integral part of its decorations and gift sales.”

The College is an awarded Eco-school and has committed to implement environmentally sustainable behaviours on campus as part of its strategic plan.

Amy Harvey, Earth and Environmental Senior Science Lecturer, and a member of a sub-committee examining infrastructure, as part of the College’s strategic plan, said that the move is a bold but necessary one.

“This year we are hoping to raise awareness to the wider community on the importance of not only reducing waste, but getting the public to think about the impact of that waste. Bermuda College is going balloon-free from the perspective of decorating as well as gifts for sale in our College Bookstore,” she said.

“We are encouraging all guests to consider joining us by choosing eco-friendly gifts for their graduate this year. Plant a tree, give them an experience for a gift, or money towards further education. We’re hoping that the ‘Balloon-free Graduation’ initiative will hopefully spark others to get on board.”

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The Commencement Committee said they understand that “balloons have historically been part and parcel of graduation celebrations, but are hoping that the idea will eventually catch on as the community embraces being environmentally responsible.”

The new move is being applauded by environmental support groups.

Anne Hyde, Executive Director of Keep Bermuda Beautiful, said “Congratulations to Bermuda College who is making a conscious choice to not have balloons at their graduation this year.

“Many people do not realise the dangers that balloons pose to the environment and marine life. It does not matter if the balloons get released deliberately or accidentally, the potential for them to kill turtles and birds is a great danger.

“It makes no difference if the balloons are made from latex, shiny Mylar or falsely marketed as ‘biodegradable’, because they all last too long as trash and pose the same peril to the animals… Thank you for taking this simple step toward a brighter future for us all.”

Julie Steele, Eco-Schools Bermuda Coordinator, and Education Head at BUEI agreed, saying, “We are grateful to Bermuda College for providing leadership in hosting a sustainable event and balloon-free graduation. BUEI applauds all of the graduates and their families for their achievements, and their support in simple steps for ocean conservation.”

Other eco-friendly graduation gift options available for sale in the College Bookstore include Bermuda College re-usable metal water bottles, coffee mug gift packs, travel containers, key chains, College T-shirts and more.

The Commencement ceremony will take place this Thursday, May 16 at 2:30 p.m. on the College athletic field.

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Comments (16)

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  1. Kim Smith says:

    Bravo to the Bermuda College for an enlightened decision. Another reason for the graduates to be proud, as new members of the College alumni.

  2. campervan says:

    Kudos.
    Lets have a balloon free Island next please.

    • wahoo says:

      Great idea, OR we could just slap a balloon tax on the people? That would discourage them from buying balloons in the first place.

      • MonkeySea says:

        The issue is not with the balloon, it’s with helium. Balloons cannot be released without it, well they can but they will just roll around on the ground. By the way, helium is scarce nowadays, that should’ve been the headline.

        • bluenose says:

          Actually the balloons are a major threat to wildlife.

          • Adklee says:

            It seems largely that the release of balloons into the air is the real problem. So it can be tackled with proper disposal, no? In all my life, it was an absolute travesty and devestation (to children especially) if a balloon got away/loose. Perhaps, it’s a culture thing in Bermuda that we don’t release balloons for kicks??? I dunno, I just think eradication is a good statement but not necessary.

  3. Pat Robinson says:

    Great initiative Amy and a long overdue one. The graduates are Bermuda’s future in every regard and the only tertiary educational institution must demonstrate leadership in preserving the environment. After all, it is only lent to us to be handed on to the next generation, in an even better condition. Well done!

  4. Adklee says:

    I applaud Bermuda College for doing its part to spread awareness to the end of making our community more eco-sensitive, but balloons are a beloved sight to see as decor and receive as gifts (not to mention far less expensive than most gift alternatives). I am very intrigued to know what exactly happens to a balloon once released into the air (which is the vast minority of balloons; most end up in the trash once the air comes out I should think). How does the glitz, glam, and festive flair lost translate to the sea life (and apparently bird life) saved?

  5. Adklee says:

    I applaud Bermuda College for doing its part to spread awareness to the end of making our community more eco-sensitive, but balloons are a beloved sight to see as decor and receive as gifts (not to mention far less expensive than most gift alternatives). I am very intrigued to know what exactly happens to a balloon once released into the air (which is the vast minority of balloons; most end up in the trash once the air comes out I should think). How does the glitz, glam, and festive flair lost translate to the sea life (and apparently bird life) saved? I understand this move is more than just a symbolic gesture, but seriously would like to have an idea of the direct impact.

  6. Adklee says:

    I applaud Bermuda College for doing its part to spread awareness to the end of making our community more eco-sensitive, but balloons are a beloved sight to see as decor and receive as gifts (not to mention far less expensive than most gift alternatives). I am very intrigued to know what exactly happens to a balloon once released into the air (which is the vast minority of balloons; most end up in the trash once the air comes out I should think). How does the glitz, glam, and festive flair lost translate to the sea life (and apparently bird life) saved? I know this is not just a symbolic gesture, but seriously would like to know the direct impact.

    • Cherilyn Corker says:

      Hi, Glad you asked. I have seen video of ospreys in the nest with a balloon entanglement. There have been power line fires caused by balloons. I have seen a photo of a calf that choked on a balloon. Horses spooked by drifting balloons have run into fences and injured themselves. I have personally seen and picked up balloons in our local waterways. I have photographed birds alive and dead with string entanglements to their legs, one that was crippled and hobbling still with the string attached, and one that was hanging from a tree, dead. Seabirds on remote islands are feeding scraps of plastic and balloons to their chicks, causing death…. autopsies on the dead chicks show this. Our Perth (Australia) zoo recently autopsied a turtle that died with plastic and balloon pieces inside…. I could go on but you probably get the picture.

      • Adklee says:

        Thanks for your response. These accounts are astonishing. Quite sad indeed. Though it still seems like a minor deal, relatively speaking. I love me some animals! But to eradicate the use of balloons is going a bit overboard imo (no pun intended).

        • sage says:

          A minor deal? Some us us humans are such over-entitled, clueless dimwits who see the destruction of creatures and eco-systems as a fair trade off for “glitz, glam and festive flair” or money, that truly brings into question our so-called superior intelligence.

          • Adklee says:

            I agree that plastic in general is a major threat to marine life. The yearly death rate due to plastic pollution is actually quite comparable to that of oil spills. And it’s not lost on me that plastic waste is something that can be more easily controlled than oil spills, overfishing, noise pollution, shipping, acidification and a whole host of other marine life killers. But again, it’s far more about the thoughtless attitude when it comes to the disposal of plastics. Of particular note is the overuse of plastic bags by vendors. (I will assume the Bermuda College bookstore now charges its customers for bags, or offers some alternative).

          • Adklee says:

            I agree that plastics in general present a major threat to marine life. In fact, the annual marine animal death toll is comparable to that of oil spills, at around 100,000. It is also not lost on me that plastic mismanagement is more controllable than oil spills, overfishing, whaling, acidification, noise pollution, shipping, and a whole host of other marine life threats/killers. But is my view that plastic bags and bottles are of far greater concern to marine wildlife. It is a combination vendor-consumer neglect, disregard and ignorance (especially where bags are concerned) that exacerbates this issue. (That said, I assume Bermuda College bookstore charges its customers for plastic bags or offers some other alternative).

            • Bs says:

              No story here! We don’t have ospreys in Bermuda and we don’t contribute to world plastics in any major way! Move on tree huggers! Next you will be fighting to ban tissue paper and kite string!

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