Leaders of several environmental organizations plus the state anti-littering agency were astonished when Norway’s national football federation released hundreds of balloons over Oslo’s Ullevaal Stadium just before last weekend’s Cup Final. Instead of putting people in a festive mood, many were deeply troubled.
“First and foremost I got very sad,” Lise Keilty Gulbransen, leader of the anti-littering agency Hold Norge rent (Keep Norway Clean), told state broadcaster NRK. “It was terrible to see such a large and important player (like the football federation, NFF) do something like that.”
Gulbransen was among those pointing out that balloons are a major source of pollution and especially threaten marine life. “On a global basis, balloons are in third place in causing marine life suffering and death,” Gulbransen said. It also takes a long time for popped balloons to decompose.
Releasing balloons is illegal in many places including Australia and several states in the US. Lars Dalen of the organization Marinereperatørene thinks it also violates Norway’s own anti-pollution laws.
“Balloons can be a misunderstood form of celebration,” Dalen told NRK. “There’s a lot of tradition tied to them, but there are many of us who have contacted the football federation after this.” NFF officials, already under pressure on a variety of others fronts, promised to take the issue seriously, claiming that “we were not aware that balloons could cause so many environmental problems.”