Another example of why we're doomed: helium tanks

A couple of weeks ago I helped organize an event.  It was a fun event with decorations, including helium balloons.  One of my volunteers took charge of getting the helium for the balloons.  In the past I have rented a helium cylinder from a party store and then returned it afterward.  My volunteer noted that it was actually cheaper to BUY two small party tanks of helium to fill the balloons and then just, well, I guess throw them out.

So she bought two of them; they came in a cardboard box and weighed about 12 pounds each.  I found this idea to be almost comically absurd--if it weren't an actual serious environmental problem.  A steel pressurized tank should be a durable item, not a disposable.  Yet here we were purchasing 25 pounds of steel and valves to blow up about 75 balloons that would last for at most a day.  The party itself was about 4 hours long.

Am I the only person who thinks this is absolutely crazy?  How many thousands of these things are sold every year?  Where is the iron ore mined? and then manufactured and shipped thousands of miles,etc.  Yet, I can hardly find anyone who finds this to be somehow just, well, wrong.

Well, not nobody.  If you've never seen the Story of Stuff, watch this.

I was able to recycle them with my curbside recycling, but that was not a satisfying ending for me.  Recycling them seems like a huge waste as well--just not quite as bad as sending to the landfill.

1 comment:

  1. Yup. I came very close to buying one of those for a Bike Fair.... and stopped when I realized that my assumption that you paid a deposit on the tank, and returned it.... was totally wrong. This was a disposable one shot deal. "Your kidding??!!" I said to the cashier. "Nope," she said. "Seems like a pretty bad deal to me too."

    Of course, there isnt much at a party store that is environmentally friendly.... lots of one shot plastic junk.