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Proper Green: A Balloon’s Second Life

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Balloons have a fun (but short) first life. Should they be recycled or reused? Here’s the answer.
Dear Proper Green,

Are balloons recyclable?

-Sandra, NM

Dear Sandra,

I wish they were, and just in case, I recommend double-checking with your local hauler to see if they accept balloons, but generally: No, balloons are not recyclable.

The two primary types of balloons made and sold in the U.S. are latex and Mylar. If you put used balloons in the trash, they’ll end up in landfills, where latex balloons will eventually biodegrade (because they’re made from the sap of a rubber tree), but Mylar balloons will never biodegrade (because they are made of a type of plastic). And because balloons are so light, it’s easy for them to float away and end up as litter somewhere — where animals that can’t digest the latex or rubber will find and eat them.

If you’ve got some used Mylar balloons on hand, try giving them a second life. Here are a few ideas on how to reuse balloons:
  • Deflate balloons and use as packing material.
  • Cut apart balloons and use for scrapbooking or collages.
  • Carefully deflate and cut around the seam to use as gift-wrap, or just cut off the neck of the balloon to use as a gift bag (this works especially well for wine bottles).
  • Make a wreath.
  • Reuse as…a new balloon! For the tinkerers out there, this helium transfusion just might be the most interesting way to reuse a balloon.

Do you have any ideas on how to reuse balloons? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
About Proper Green

Proper Green is Recyclebank's green advice column. From promoting good manners in a green world (because ideas about what constitutes proper behavior and the environment are still evolving) to providing easy ways to make your every day more sustainable, Proper Green aims to help smooth the way with answers to questions that are important to you!

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Proper Green
Proper Green

Proper Green is Recyclebank's green advice column. From promoting good manners in a green world (because ideas about what constitutes proper behavior and... more

  • Randy F. 1 year ago
    While this isn't the greenest idea, it is a re-use for existing waste: Trim & cut holes in Mylar to use for a weed guard with new seeds or already established plants. They sell virgin plastic sheeting for this very purpose, just for larger areas. This use might be good for smaller plants - keeping grass from surrounding, crowding, or shading your flowers, trees, & veggies.
  • Barbara Y. 1 year ago
    You can fill deflated latex balloons with uncooked rice and use them to learn to juggle. They work great for beginners.
  • Cynthia H. 1 year ago
    You can also make stress balls. Search pinterest for "diy balloon stress balls." :)
  • Ruth C. 2 years ago
    If you got a special mylar balloon use craft glue to glue it to the back of a clear plate. This can be used as the special birthday plate or used for decoration. A get well plate can encourage someone home sick, get out the special plate instead of buying more balloons.
  • James M. 3 years ago
    We don't buy balloons at all because they are a waste of $
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