McDonald’s – It’s Time To Stop Using Helium Balloons

Professor Robert Richardson, McDonald's, helium balloons, Peter Wothers, MRI scanners, Despicable Me 3, environmental policy, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, scuba diving PR,

In July 2017 McDonald’s restaurants in the UK promoted the film “Despicable Me 3” by using helium balloons

In December 2012 Professor Robert Richardson of Cornell University in New York argued that a helium party balloon should cost somewhere in the region of £75 to more accurately reflect the true scarcity of the gas. What is Richardson’s authority with this gas? In 1996 Professor Richardson won the Nobel physics prize for his research on helium.

Just a month later, in January 2013, the Independent newspaper published an article entitled “A ballooning problem: the great helium shortage“.

In the article Peter Wothers, a British Chemist and a teaching fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge stated, “The scarcity of helium is a really serious issue. I can imagine that in 50 years’ time our children will be saying ‘I can’t believe they used such a precious material to fill balloons’”.

We only have a finite supply of helium. It is a vital scientific gas and it is needed to run medical machines such as MRI scanners. In both fields this gas is irreplaceable.

Granted we are not going to run out of helium tomorrow, but it is now time to carefully use helium. 100 years ago we utilised ivory in much the same way that plastic is currently consumed. No one batted an eye at shooting an elephant so that the tusks could be used to make billiard balls. Today we think about ivory and elephants completely differently and this thinking needs to extend to helium and balloons. Filling balloons with helium is absolutely the wrong use of this precious resource.

McDonald’s Helium Balloons

We are now in the summer of 2017. The film Despicable Me 3 has just been rolled out in UK cinemas and who doesn’t love a Minion! It is no surprise that McDonald’s has teamed up with this movie franchise and run some co-promotions because these films are joyous pieces of fun. What was less joyous was spotting that McDonald’s had fallen back on an old fashioned, out-dated method to promote the fast food chain and the film. Tying helium filled branded balloons to the railings outside their restaurant.

Professor Robert Richardson, McDonald's, helium balloons, Peter Wothers, MRI scanners, Despicable Me 3, environmental policy, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, scuba diving PR,

The McDonald’s co-branded balloons displayed information about Despicable Me 3 and the McDonald’s Happy Meal, along with a ‘don’t litter’ sign

I therefore thought it an appropriate time to check out McDonald’s Environmental Policy. The relevant page has the title “striving for a sustainable future”.

At McDonald’s we recognise our responsibility to protect and preserve the environment for future generations. That is why we have a sustainable sourcing policy for food and packaging and aim to use our planet’s resources efficiently.

We believe in the importance of having a positive impact on the hundreds of communities in which we operate. Apart from supporting grassroots football and helping to fundraise for RMHC, we help to keep local areas clean and litter free by organising daily litter patrols and larger clean-up events.

Through our Planet Champion Programme, we train our employees on sustainable practices and inspire them to do their part, both in the restaurants and at home.”

Dear McDonald’s

Printing a “please don’t litter” sign on your balloons really doesn’t make much of an environmental impact. If you really want to change this planet for the better, please review your ‘Planet Champion Programme’ and bring it up to date.

Helium is a finite resource. It is time to stop using this precious gas in balloons as a marketing mechanism throughout your entire group. You have the worldwide power and authority to make a positive impact and help educate the public that the party is well and truly over when it comes to helium balloons. It won’t take much effort. It will make a massive difference. Please make it so. Thank you.

Last Day For Portland Coastguard SAR

Portland search and rescue helicopter, Dorset SAR, Lee On Solent Chopper, Richard Drax, dive safety, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, scuba diving safety

After more than two decades in service the Portland Coastguard search and rescue helicopter will today – Friday 30th June 2017 – cease operations, despite more than 100,000 people signing a petition to try to keep it open.

The Portland SAR helicopter base has performed rescues across the South West since 1995. The closure has come about because the MCA is being restructured, with a fleet of search and rescue helicopters operating from 10 bases.

The South Dorset MP Richard Drax had also spoken out against the closure of the base, “I watch their departure still very much with regret.”

There is little good news because Heli Operations (a company supplying trained helicopter personnel to companies worldwide) will be taking over the the Portland helicopter base site at Osprey Quay from tomorrow, 1st July 2017. This should mean that the base can provide a refuelling facility for the search and rescue helicopter.

Portland search and rescue helicopter, Dorset SAR, Lee On Solent Chopper, Richard Drax, dive safety, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, scuba diving safety

The nearest SAR will now be located at the new £20m-helicopter base at Lee-on-Solent in Hampshire. The MCA has reported this is 15 minutes flying time from Portland.

The Portland area will also have back-up from helicopters in Cornwall and South Wales.

 

Rebreather Divers Grateful For Henderson’s List

Gordon Henderson, CCR, Inspiration List, Martin Parker, Nicky Finn, AP Diving, Geraint Ffoulkes-Jones, Sally Cartwright, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, closed circuit rebreather safety

At the end of May 2017 AP Diving’s Managing Director – Martin Parker – issued a statement on the Inspiration List.

“Gordon Henderson is retiring his Inspiration Users List after 19 years. I don’t think this milestone should pass without acknowledging the role of Gordon’s Inspiration List for CCRs generally: It has been a fundamental part of the way the sport diving world has learned about closed circuit rebreathers, procedures and rebreather safety.”

Gordon Henderson was an early adopter of the Inspiration Rebreather and a gifted IT specialist. When he placed an order for the “just launched” Inspo in 1998, Henderson immediately recognised the need for Inspiration owners to be able to communicate freely, and set up the Inspiration List using his Drogon email system. (Social media didn’t exist at the time and forums were pretty basic).

The resulting Inspiration List provided certified AP rebreather users with immediate multi-way communication and the ability to discuss issues, and share experiences with other CCR divers because “no knowledge or a little knowledge can kill you”.

“Why we don’t use Lithium Hydroxide, …..the idea for monitoring the thermal process in the scrubber came from list member discussions, ….understanding the effect of depth on the scrubber, …best decompression practices, ….best gas choices are just some of the topics that were put to bed.”
Martin Parker

Gordon Henderson, CCR, Inspiration List, Martin Parker, Nicky Finn, AP Diving, Geraint Ffoulkes-Jones, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, closed circuit rebreather safety, Sally Cartwright, SAA Chairman, Bluebird Project

Early Inspiration adopter and wreck explorer Sally Cartwright checks her handsets

“As a new Inspo diver (15 months now), lemme [sic] register my regards and gratitude to Gordon for doing this good work. A list like this is critical to safe, independent customer development and education, and it’s good to see that the factory agrees.”
Ken Blakely

This forum has proven to be the single most valuable education tool for the both of us to learn to dive more safely and knowledgeably. Time and again real nuggets of information from many contributors have enable us to learn more about our breathers and diving in general that we would not have otherwise learned.”
M
arc & Phyllis Dennis

Martin Parker also stated that if it wasn’t for Gordon’s involvement, the Inspiration List would have been dropped.

“I realised that quite a few of the subscribers enjoy this form of communication and if there is something important for the factory to say, it’s a good way of reaching people quickly.” Martin Parker

The Inspiration List also inspired other divers to set up valuable resources, including Jan Willem Bech’s “The Rebreather Site.

We are pleased to report that Andrew Last has kindly taken up the Inspiration List mantle.

Thank you Gordon for your exceptional service. It has been appreciated by so many CCR divers.

I’ll leave the last word to wreck explorer Geraint Ffoulkes-Jones.

“The true legacy of all your excellent work just cannot be measured, because it is the number of lives your valuable Inspo and general CCR information sharing source has saved over countless years, and thankfully we will never know the true extent.”

 

 

Aqua Lung Shot FX Fins

Aqua Lung state their Shot FX fins are an innovative design that helps provide a powerful, yet comfortable kick.

There are definite physiological differences between men and women when it comes to key pieces of equipment – suits, BCD’s, gloves – but does this also include fins? In writing this piece we have not been able to find any formal research into male and female fins and how each sex kicks during scuba diving. (Perhaps this might make a good PHd research project?).

Aqua Lung, Aqualung, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, XRay Mag, X-Ray Magazine, Shot FX Fins, Twilight, scuba diving fins, female diving equipment, girls scuba kit

The Shot FX fins are part of the new ‘Details’ collection from Aqua Lung. This equipment range was specifically designed for females by an international team of female divers and water enthusiasts.

What we do know is that women have wider hips and these affect the centre of gravity, it is lower in women. We generally have shorter legs and shorter stride lengths. In the main women enjoy a greater range of joint movement and flexibility than men.

So where does that leave us when it comes to buying fins? We need something that works efficiently, but surely that is the wish of all divers?

Aqua Lung state the Shot FX Fin foot pocket has a customised inner sole designed to anchor the foot, preventing power from the boot moving laterally during the power stroke, resulting in maximum energy transmission.

The blade is shorter and softer when compared with other fins, making it easier to kick. And performance has been enhanced by adding an elastic blade insert. Apparently this creates a “spoon effect” that pushes more water with each down stroke.

Thought has also been given to the straps and Aqua Lung have realised just how popular technical spring straps are proving with the majority of divers. The Shot FX fins are fitted with metal spring straps and a soft heel lug, that help make donning and doffing much easier.

This visually attractive fin is proving to be popular with both sexes, and is available in Twilight and Arctic White.

Link to manufacturer or source: Aqua Lung

First Published: X-Ray MagazineSeptember 2013, Issue 56, Page 58

Earth Day 2017: Dive Point’s Plastic Pledge

Matthias Breit, Regina Rinkenburger, Dive Point, Red Sea Diving, scuba diving Hurghada, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, scuba diving stories, diving PR, Earth Day

A Dive Point day-boat heading home following a day’s diving in the Red Sea

Dive Point, a recreational and technical diving centre based in Hurghada, Egypt has made a plastic pledge to coincide with this year’s Earth Day, by permanently reducing their onboard plastic waste.

UNESCO, John McConnell, Matthias Breit, Regina Rinkenburger, Dive Point, Red Sea Diving, scuba diving Hurghada, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, scuba diving stories, diving PR, Earth Day

Dive Point’s new water drinking fountain contains 19 litres of water, ensuring that the guests don’t use 31 small plastic bottles

In 1969 at a UNESCO conference John McConnell proposed that an annual day be put in place to support and promote environmental protection. The first ‘Earth Day’ was held on the first day of spring (in the northern hemisphere) on 21st March 1970. The date later moved to 22nd April.

“We are always looking at ways to recycle and we wanted to mark Earth Day in a positive manner”, stated Regina Rinkenburger, Dive Point’s Operation Manager. In some countries, such as Germany and Canada it is really easy to recycle. In Egypt it can be more challenging, therefore we need to be cleverer with our waste.

We have found that recycling plastic is not a simple process; hence we must put in place as many ways as we can to reduce our plastic use. This week we have installed 19 litre water fountains on our dive boats. Each fountain is the equivalent of 31 small plastic bottles of water. Guests are welcome to fill their water containers as many times as they like. These fountains have already made a huge difference to the amount of plastic waste coming off our boats.”

 

Better Balloon Release News

What a great way to start the week. We have three pieces of positive #BalloonRelease news!

As March drew to a close we talked to the British magazine Horse & Hound about the Marine Conservation Society‘s online pledge. The MCS is actively urging people to sign their pledge to help the charity create an interactive map, to show support for balloon release bans around the UK.

As you can see in the news cutting below, we are delighted that news of the MCS #BalloonRelease Pledge made it into Horse & Hound.

“The Marine Conservation Society launched a campaign on 22 March, calling on people to lobby the councils to ban balloon and lantern releases, as it has seen the harm they cause to sea and shore life.”

TUMC’s Roz Lunn was also quoted in this article.

‘Rosemary Lunn, who works in communications in the diving industry, pointed out that Helium is a finite resource and is needed for vital work in medicine. “Times have moved on and ideas need to change”, she said.’ 

Compassionate-Friends, Australia, Marine-Conservation-Society, Poundbakery, Bolton Bakery, mass balloon release, Keely Palin, young-horse-panicked-by-helium-balloon-suffers-broken-neck, environmental littering, MCS, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, Horse-and-Hound-Magazine,

An Australian bereavement support group – the ‘Compassionate Friends’ – releasing balloons on 1 February 2016 at Kingston Park Coastal Reserve

The second piece of good news comes from Australia and concerns a support group called ‘The Compassionate Friends‘. This group helps bereaved parents and siblings by providing opportunities for families to come together. One of TCF SA’s key events is an annual balloon release. This year’s event was due to be held on Sunday 23rd April.

It should be stated that TCF SA did not understand the impact of ‘environmentally friendly’ latex balloons until No Balloon Release Australia advised them according.

After learning the facts, a committee member of TCF SA and an organiser of the balloon release event confirmed that the group would immediately look into an environmentally friendly alternative event to replace the balloon release.

“Our information previously had been that by using supposedly biodegradable balloons, our event was safe for the environment. We’re saddened to know this is not the case.

It seems we are harming the environment by releasing balloons – this is certainly not our intention – so the committee will revise the plans for the event and come up with another way to acknowledge our precious children.”

Well done to all concerned.

Compassionate-Friends, Australia, Marine-Conservation-Society, Poundbakery, Bolton Bakery, mass balloon release, Keely Palin, young-horse-panicked-by-helium-balloon-suffers-broken-neck, environmental littering, MCS, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company

And finally an update on last week’s Poundbakery balloon release.

Earlier today Poundbakery released the following statement via social media.

“We at Poundbakery are incredibly sorry for last week’s balloon release PR stunt. Whilst we did use biodegradable materials, we did not realise that these materials could still have such a negative impact on the environment and wildlife. We were both naive and ignorant of the devastation this can cause, which is why we would like to donate £1000 to an environmental charity. We are currently in the process of looking for a local north west based charity and will update you all when we have found the right one.”

Thank you Poundbakery for listening.

Bolton’s ‘Poundbakery’ PR Balloon Blunder

Did you hear the one about Poundbakery, who thought it would be a fab idea to potentially maim and kill wildlife, whilst wantonly littering the Greater Manchester area?

Probably not.

It is quite possible however that you read about the bakery releasing 500 helium balloons, containing free sandwich vouchers in Bolton, as a PR stunt.

Poundbakery, Bolton Bakery, mass balloon release, Keely Palin, young-horse-panicked-by-helium-balloon-suffers-broken-neck, environmental littering, MCS, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company

“The sky is the limit with this campaign and we can’t wait to see where the balloons end up.” Keely Palin, Marketing Manager, Poundbakery Bolton

This ill conceived stunt, along with Poundbakery’s Marketing Manager, Keely Palin, certainly both deserve an entry in this year’s PR Hall of Shame.

Barely 20 days ago, on 20th March, Horse and Hound reported that a young horse ran through a gate, broke two of her legs and then her neck after choking on a helium balloon that had landed in her field.

Keely Palin told The Bolton News on 7th March 2017, “The sky is the limit with this campaign and we can’t wait to see where the balloons end up.”

Whilst Bolton and Greater Manchester are not known for their turtle population, it is a shame that Ms Palin seems to have not yet grasped that the environment needs to be positively accounted for when planning and executing every piece of PR.

At present the Marine Conservation Society is urging the public to back the banning of all balloon releases.

Currently over 50 UK local authorities including Cornwall County, Durham, Monmouthshire, Worcestershire etc, have agreed to implement a ban on balloon and lantern releases on their land.

Poundbakery, Bolton Bakery, mass balloon release, Keely Palin, young-horse-panicked-by-helium-balloon-suffers-broken-neck, environmental littering, MCS, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, Richard Gilbert, dead guillemot

A dead Guillemot entangled in a fence by a balloon

After releasing the 500 balloons, Poundbakery proudly posted the following statement on their Facebook page.

“As promised, here’s the video of the balloon release…we can confirm that the balloons (complete with FREE LUNCH vouchers) headed South East, towards Yorkshire and Manchester. However, with the British weather, they could be anywhere by now. Keep a lookout and post any pictures of the balloons in the sky…happy hunting!”

Poundbakery is encouraging everyone to tweet a photo of themselves with their Poundbakery voucher to @poundbakery with the hashtag #FreeLunch and #GoLarge. Alternatively you could always email Poundbakery with your views on balloon releases.

The hashtags for the campaign to stop balloon releases include #Pollution, #Litter, #BalloonsBlow, #Wildlife and #DontLetGo

So Ms Keely Palin. Here’s a piece of advice. A bad publicity stunt is memorable for all the wrong reasons, so here is a chance to make it right.

  • Organise a Poundbakery sponsored beach clean
  • Donate funds to the Marine Conservation Society to help them educate others who don’t understand just how damaging balloon releases can be
  • Sign the MCS’s pledge to help the charity ban balloon releases
  • And how about feeding 500 homeless people? One for every balloon you released!

Now has anyone got Bolton Council’s telephone number to get them to ban balloon releases?