Sky lanterns are safe for birds, wildlife and people
To millions of people, sky lanterns create magical spectacles which release a sense of peaceful energy and a remarkable connection with the spiritual world. As seen in many movies and Disney cartoons, sky lanterns are as beautiful as they look and it is totally inadequate to victimise responsible sky lanterns users using few doubtful incidents.
Sky lanterns do not kill or harm animals and people. This was fully supported by Trading Standard Institute which confirms that “high quality branded sky lanterns have very low environmental impact and if used as intended in appropriate conditions sky lanterns DO NOT constitute a high risk. With little care and consideration they can be enjoyed safely.” (Annex: page 15-21)
It is very disappointing to see some organisations and unions encouraging a generalised and distorted opinion on sky lanterns. What is more distressing is that they are appealing on people’s sensibility with an oblivious photo of a dead Owl and exploiting misinterpreted news (Annex: page 24). This propaganda is supported by individuals who also seek a momentum and they are lobbing and criticising Charities and event organisers to discourage them from using sky lanterns and often offending and forcing them to opt for apparent harmless alternatives.
It is comprehensible that a photo of a lifeless Owl tangled in the metal wire of a sky lantern has touched the feeling of people’s hearts and some reacted impulsively to the “news”. However, it is unthinkable that someone can be pushed to do extreme things to support a distorted opinion or view.
From a rational point of view, the photo is clearly man-made by someone who found the Owl and used the dead Owl to set the scenery, so that somebody else could take a close up photo for their propaganda. Hopefully, the Owl died for natural causes and it was not shot for this setup.
However, if a closer observation is conducted on the photo, it is noticeable that the bird was carefully selected to have the most devastating impact on people’s sensibility.
In fact, a Pigeon or a Crow would not be so appealing to people’s sensibility, while evidently a Robin or a Sparrow would be too small to get tangle with the wire. On the other hand, a Duck or a Swan would be too strong and can easily break the delicate bamboo ring to free the part tangled. Besides, a sky lantern is neither a bullet nor an arrow or a car, which all would kill instantly a bird or fox (Annex: page 24). If hypothetically any animal would get tangled with a sky lantern, they would fight to unleash the part of the body and inevitably they would dismantle the fragile sky lantern.
Furthermore, the photo shows a sky lantern almost intact, however anyone who has handled a sky lantern knows that the thin bamboo ring breaks very easily with little pressure, not to mention the fragility of the delicate paper.
Nonetheless, anyone with minimum knowledge on birds would know that the strength of the Owl’s claws would tear off a rigid metal cage. It is strange to think that Owls or other birds with supreme vision can be attracted by a sky lantern. More remarkably unreasonable is to believe that Owls do not have the capability and strength to break a fragile bamboo stick which they are expert to build nests with.
In addition, it is evident that the scenery characterised on the made-up photo does not represent a common concern despite millions of sky lanterns are released every year around the world. Certainly, if any other bird would have been photographed in similar condition it would be immediately embraced by those propagandists. Sadly, birds and other wildlife animals are killed for all sort of unconventional reasons and yet sky lanterns are blamed for few doubtful occasions.
For all those who responsibly enjoy sky lanterns, it is very disappointing that respectful organisations are appealing to ban all sky lanterns with bizarre remarks. It is clear that their propaganda shows lack of knowledge on the real issues and they are spreading incorrect and generalised information to persuade Councils to ban sky lanterns.
Alternatively, a constructive campaign to inform people on the differences between the ranges of sky lanterns available on the market would be more effective to protect the environment. Likewise, simple guidelines on how sky lanterns can be safely enjoyed would eliminate any potential risk while safeguarding wildlife and the environment.
It is fundamental to highlight that as per any product or service, some are good, while others are not so good. Among all, it is inevitable that criminals always exploit every opportunity to cash in easy money, careless to put people at risk or even more unconsidered of the damage they cause to the environment.
Nonetheless, certainly these criminals are unconcerned of the loss instigated on industries and their impact on research and new product development, which they play a fundamental part to innovate existing products and solving issues of any kind and sky lanterns are no excluded.
Indeed, it is well known that sky lanterns can be built using different materials and to hold the fuel-cell some are assembled with genuine fire-proof string, instead other sky lanterns have metal wires, while others have a rope which is made with materials containing deadly substances like Asbestos.
Unfortunately, unscrupulous sellers do not care if birds and animals die or if they pollute the environment or if you and your children get injured. This is true not only for sky lanterns but for anything you can imagine, whether that is a fake IPhone charger or a counterfeit Dyson Hover or an identical copy of Lego toys or even a fake Beef Burger. Governments, Authorities and Trading Standards personnel are doing their very best to limit the importation and distribution of counterfeits and dangerous goods on our markets. However, ultimately customers should be aware of potential risks caused by counterfeits, in particular when the product is aimed to a young target.
It is clear that an indiscriminate ban on all sky lanterns is not only offensive for all those people who responsibly enjoy sky lanterns but more importantly sky lanterns brings great benefit to the environment to reduce the emissions of small particles like PM10 & PM2.5.
Spreading accurate information can help Council Committee, individuals and organisations to prepare a constructive campaign to inform members of the public and ensure that those event organisers who intend to release sky lanterns can responsibly implement this activity at their event.
Ultimately, unlike many other products, sky lanterns can be picked up few miles away and they are fully compostable and recyclable.
The photo below show few sky lanterns almost entirely biodegraded after few days left outside on the patio. It is evident that the paper has dissolved and mostly eaten by snails and slugs. The bamboo ring also started to biodegrade and the water base glue used to join the ends of the bamboo to form the ring has become lose ensuring that birds and wildlife will be safe.
- Important information on Sky Lanterns (pdf open in a new window): https://www.nightskylanterns.co.uk/files/sky-lanterns-report-20190403.pdf
- Appeal to stop Councils from banning all sky lanterns: https://www.nightskylanterns.co.uk/blog/?appeal-to-stop-councils-from-banning-all-sky-lanterns