Em's place

Writing, anxiety-wrangling, tea.

The link that popped my balloon

By Emma on February 14, 2013

I’ve been gearing up to tell you about something I was all excited about: a balloon race to celebrate the launch of Between Two Thorns. I love balloons, I love the spectacle of seeing them all go up into the air and I’ve never been to one in the real world, so I was really looking forward to it. It’s fun and whimsical, I thought, and we can offer a cool prize.

So Forbidden Planet announce it on their website and send out a tweet about it and I wrote up the info poised to do the same myself when I get a tweet from @pigsonthewing which said:

“@EmApocalyptic #BalloonRelease – even biodegradable – harms wildlife: goo.gl/5FDoa Please don’t allow one in your name in Bristol.”

I was horrified. I clicked on the link. I read it and felt absolutely terrible. You see, when I looked into balloon races before suggesting it to Angry Robot Books I thought that as we would only use a relatively small number of latex balloons and paper tags with no plastic covering, no plastic ties or string it would be fine. As all the balloon sites say, latex is biodegradable and I was given to understand they would explode at high altitude and be spread out over a big enough area to not cause a problem.

If you read the article, you’ll see that’s not always the case. It takes longer to biodegrade in the sea too and Bristol is – you guessed it – right on the coast. If memory serves, there are nature reserves nearby too.

I confess, I freaked out. I couldn’t believe I’d suggested something that could be so damaging. There was no doubt in my mind that we had to cancel and Lee at Angry Robot not only agreed, he wasn’t angry with me for suggesting it in the first place. What a nice chap. Forbidden Planet have been brilliant too. Phew.

So. No balloon race. Having been so shocked by this, I wanted to explain why I thought it would be okay as I think lots of people would have thought the same as me, and why we’ve cancelled it in the hope that it spreads awareness. I’d much rather find another way to celebrate that has as close to zero impact on the environment as possible.

I’m hoping to try and come up with one in the next couple of days and will let you know as soon as I do. On the meantime, thanks to @pigsonthewing for drawing it all to my attention and I’m sorry I suggested it in the first place.

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{ 4 comments... read them below, or add one }

  1. Thank you for your prompt, positive and supportive response. No need to feel bad; you’ve now done the right thing, and helping to spread the word is a bonus.

    Nice Puffin in your header image, BTW!
    Andy Mabbett (@pigsonthewing) recently posted..All your video are belong to us: open licence recordings of local government meetings

    • Emma says:

      Hi Andy,

      It’s also nice to feel that Twitter facilitated something good today. Makes me realise how much things are changing – I knew that already, but this really brought it home to me.

  2. In another example of small world stuff, Andy is an old workmate of my mum’s. And all my Wikipedia contributor friends know him as well.
    Daniel Johnston recently posted..Kickstarter is live

  3. Louise Brown says:

    What a great post Emma and good for you for looking into it and making that decision yourself. I wish there were more people like you out there.

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