What’s the problem with plastic?
Here at Chimney Balloon, we’re very aware that plastic consumption and discarding is one of the biggest contributors to environmental pollution around the world. As of 2023 there’s approximately 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean. An unimaginable amount! Plastics are taking over our Earth, its causing damage to habitats, being consumed by wildlife and is even making its way into human tissue through the food chain. There’s even been microplastic nanoparticles found in rain! It also makes use of precious natural resources and relies heavily on energy to be produced – so why do we still use it?
Why the Chimney Balloon is a plastic product:
We do have to admit, the Chimney Balloon chimney draught excluder is made entirely from plastic. Although it a plastic product designed to be reused again and again for years to come, and is completely recyclable at its end of life – it is a 100% plastic product.
However, this was partially a design choice. Plastic materials are unique – they have a specific set of qualities and behaviour other more sustainable products don’t. The plastics we specifically use are chosen for their ability to be lightweight, strong, fire-safe as well as air tight. Plastics are also able to be manufactured easily and quickly – meaning we’re able to easily adjust our production rate to demand.
There also just wasn’t a natural material available to work with, unfortunately at this time there hasn’t been a natural material discovered that has all of the properties we need for the balloon to work successfully, meaning we had to turn to the man-made alternatives that were available during the product development stage.
The product is designed to save money, energy and help reduce our customers environmental impact. It’s been shown that by blocking your chimney you can reduce your home’s energy output by up to 5%, which is the equivalent of up to 250kg of CO2 saved per year. This is significantly more carbon dioxide saved, than is released during the manufacturing process of a single Chimney Balloon – we think that’s a pretty good swap, even if the balloon manufacturing process isn’t quite as environmentally friendly as we’d like.
The plastics we use are also pretty safe to work with and we can source them from entirely British suppliers. Everything from the inflatable balloon section, to the handgrip, to the tap is entirely British made – not only does that mean we’re sure that the items are made to a quality standard, but we’re also sure that the employees involved in the manufacturing process are legally guaranteed good working conditions, fair hours and fair pay for their work. The fact that we use a safe to handle, inert, non-toxic plastic also means we’re able to collaborate with Watford Workshop – a charity organisation that dedicates itself to providing a supported workplace for those that many struggle in other mainstream employment.
The benefits of plastic a plastic product:
Not only do plastics have completely unique behaviours that cannot always be mimicked by natural materials, they are very quick and easy to produce, safe to work with and cheap for consumers. Previously we’ve heard plastic being described as a ‘great equaliser’. Historically items such as toys, fittings and even cutlery would have been made from more expensive, difficult to work with natural materials such as metals or wood- and they would come in quite expensive making the a bit inaccessible to those on lower incomes. However, due to the availability of cheaper, easy to source, and simple to work with materials such as plastics, cost effective options for all kinds of different products have come to market – meaning those on lower incomes or even on the poverty line are able to have access to even some of the most basic items at a more reasonable price.
This is another reason we decided to stick with plastic for the Chimney Balloon. We want the Chimney Balloon chimney draught stopper to reach and help as many customers as possible – to do this we need to be able to produce a good number of these products at a reasonable cost to the consumer – one that the vast majority of the population can afford. By using plastic we’re able to keep costs low, and ensure we’re pricing our products as fair as possible.
All of the plastic we use is designed to be used again and again, the design of the balloon means that it is particularly robust and hard wearing, so you can put it in and out of your chimney multiple times a year, year after year.
It is also possible to completely recycle every single part of the balloon once it eventually fails – all of the plastic we have chosen to use is 100% home recyclable and can simply be popped in your recycling bin – your local recycling centre will then be able to recycle this, and the product will be used to make a new, useful plastic product.
How we’re trying to reduce our plastic consumption:
We are aware that we don’t just use plastic for the Chimney Balloon chimney plug itself. At this time we do also use plastic to package and send the product. This is something we’re actively trying to make improvements on.
We are making huge strides towards repacking the product in a plastic-free manner and ensure that all of our postage packaging is plastic free as soon as we possibly can. We feel it’s particularly important to move away from the single, or short-term use plastics as fast as possible, so we’re actively researching solutions to reduce our plastic consumption and reduce the amount of plastic we send to our customers as a matter of priority.
We want to encourage all of our customers to make use of any hand or foot pumps they have around the house instead of purchasing a short-term use mouth inflation tube, and want to continue offering everyone useful and reusable inflation options other than the plastic tubing, if they can make use of them.
We are also researching into the available options surrounding recycled plastic for our hard plastic taps and handgrips – as we want to ensure that all of our manufacturing processes are as eco-friendly as possible, whilst still ensuring the quality and ethical standards of the product’s production are maintained.
Something else to note:
We don’t shout about this enough, but we invest 20% of our profits into the community interest company Buy Land Plant Trees CIC. One of BLPT’s key aims is that they are trying to improve the local environment through rewilding and restoration projects. They are actively restoring and planting native woodland, maintaining and fixing local peat bogs as well as reintroducing native wildlife through their programs to plant scrub and other natural plants.
One of the reasons we partnered up with BLPT is that through their woodland restoration programs, they are helping to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere and by investing in them we’re taking steps to offset our carbon footprint by ensuring there’s more trees in the ground to pull that carbon dioxide out of the environment.