Pumped

Taking Moomin to dog beach, Lisa Hills saw how much environmental damage balloons can do. Photo by Steve Grant.

AFTER six hard years of campaigning, South Fremantle wildlife nurse Lisa Hills was all smiles this week when the McGowan government announced a state-wide ban on releasing helium balloons into the environment.

Back on dog beach where she first conceived of the campaign while walking her bull terrier Moomin, Ms Hills said she copped plenty of mocking and abuse in the early days, but it had dropped away as people began to realise the damage balloons were doing to fauna, particularly marine life.

“Because I was educating people, and that was a big part of the campaign,” she said.

The balloon release ban will be introduced from 2023 as part of a broader crackdown on single use plastics which was fittingly announced by environment minister Stephen Dawson at Ms Hills’ workplace, Perth Zoo.

From 2023 plastic plates, cutlery, stirrers, straws, thick plastic bags, polystyrene food containers will join balloon releases in the bin.

Next on the chopping block will be plastic barrier/produce bags, cotton buds with plastic shafts, polystyrene packaging, microbeads and oxo-degradable products.

Despite her smiles, Ms Hills admits she would have liked the balloon ban to go even further than just releases.

“I just don’t think they are an essential item and I would love it if people could think outside the square and use an alternative when they’re having parties,” she said.

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