April 22 is Earth Day, and here in East Tennessee, the Knoxville Botanical Gardens & Arboretum celebrated Earth Fest with environmental education, speakers, demonstrations, music, food, and craft beer.
Maybe you are wondering why I am writing about Earth Day. I’m a balloon decorator, after all, and balloons are bad for the environment – or so we are told – just like plastic straws and styrofoam packaging, along with everything else that’s not “natural”.
One thing you should know about me is that I’m pretty big on being “green”.
I drive a Prius. I recycle. I eat (mostly) organic. I bring my own grocery bags. I keep bees and chickens and I’ve raised Monarch butterflies. And when I told friends that I’d create balloon decor, they responded with “YOU do WHAT?! But you’re such a tree-hugger!”
Well – I think it’s possible to love the environment, to protect it, and to still use balloons to decorate events.
Because I’m one of only 2 balloon decorators in East Tennessee that fully composts all latex balloons.
The vast majority of balloons that I use are made from 100% biodegradable latex. And all of the balloons that I use in my decor end up in the large “digesters” of the Sevier Country Solid Waste Facility. There are only 5 facilities like it in the whole world. They use state of the art technology to compost waste at much higher temperatures than can be achieved in a regular compost pile at home. And with the help of bio-solids, all latex balloons (and all the waste from Dollywood and all the other attractions) break down into 100% pure “black gold” Grade A compost within just a few days – which I have picked up by the truck load to put into my vegetable garden.
If you ever get a chance to tour the facility, I’d recommend that you go see it. It’s certainly very smelly, but it’s also very impressive and highly educational. It’ll give you a whole new outlook on waste management and a great appreciation of modern technology and engineering at work to save the planet.
Aside from composting all latex balloons, I also reuse all my framework and base plates, and I recycle the few foil and plastic balloons that I do use in my designs. I avoid helium whenever possible. And of course I don’t do balloon releases, because releasing a balloon is littering, no matter how pretty it might look as we watch them fly into the sky.
So, if you’re planning an event in Knoxville, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, Gatlinburg, please give me a call – I’d love to help you decorate while protecting our environment, including our beautiful Great Smoky Mountain National Park.