Chinese lanterns: Spain has banned these dangerous toys. Now we should too.

Today’s the Chinese new year, the first day of the Year of the Dragon. But the recent vogue for marking this and other events with flying lanterns has caused concern that is spreading across Europe. The UK Government remains under pressure to ban so-called ‘Chinese’ lanterns, or sky lanterns after the products were prohibited from sale or use in Spain.

Abandoned Chinese lantern (c) James Illingworth

Lantern waste? An abandoned sky lantern on a golf course.

The Spanish authorities said the flying lanterns, a signal of good luck and hope, posed a risk of burns and fire because, after launching, they fly through the air without control. Continue reading Chinese lanterns: Spain has banned these dangerous toys. Now we should too.

Bereaved parents hope environmental pundit chokes to death

Oh, it’s been a while since I wrote about this, but the issue of balloon releases seems to have raised its head in a particularly bizarre and upsetting way recently. Readers who’ve read this blog for any length of time won’t have missed my thoughts about this issue – but if you did, have a quick refresher by reading Balloons – how they kill wildlife, and what to do about it. Or smirk at the slightly more tongue in cheek Smoking for Turtles on the same subject.

Smug corporate balloon release

The bottom line is that I’m worried about the damage balloons cause to the environment, and I wish people wouldn’t release them or encourage others to do so. Yes, even when it’s for a really good cause. And that’s the difficult bit, because some dreadfully worthy causes seem to adopt balloon releases as their chosen method of fund-raising or commemoration or whatever. Then it becomes quite hard to criticise the medium without being seen to be criticising the message itself. The latest person to face up to this particular Gordian knot is well-known Midland bird-watcher and seasoned internet debater Andy Mabbett, who’s one of the few people in the UK licensed to wear a Father-of-the-Internet beard without irony. Andy Mabbett has been approaching various bodies that are undertaking balloon releases and asking them not to do so. I won’t go into the debate for or against balloons – I’ve covered it exhaustively elsewhere. But I do want to examine an aspect of this that’s caused me some concern. Recently Mabbett approached Life After Loss, a Northern Ireland-based organisation for bereaved parents. The results were unexpected. Continue reading Bereaved parents hope environmental pundit chokes to death