By Jess Warren
On Tuesday, November 13, Student Senate at Cardiff University Students’ Union resolved to ban the use of balloons throughout the Union and in Union events. The motion had been proposed by Nia Jones, Ethical and Environmental Officer, due to their contribution to single-use plastic pollution.
The motion stated: “Balloons cannot be recycled in Cardiff and are often a source of plastic pollution following large events like Open Days and campaign weeks. Even biodegradable balloons do not degrade under normal conditions and therefore contribute to litter and pollution in our city.
“There was a 50% rise in balloon litter on our beaches between 2015 and 2016. Only around 13% of balloons burst into small pieces whilst more than 80% come down intact, endangering our local wildlife.
“It is best to stop the use of balloons completely and instead use reusable and digital decorations to promote sustainability and reduce waste across campus. Not only will this improve Cardiff University SU’s sustainability footprint but also exhibit good practice to all that visit the Union.”
The motion will also aim to lobby Cardiff University to stop the use of balloons in their events. This is because motions that have passed in Student Senate are only applicable to the Students’ Union. As a result, any motion that seeks to include the University must do so by lobbying, and pressuring it to make change.
Nia Jones stated: “I am so pleased the balloon ban motion passed in senate, and am grateful for all the comments from fellow senators that helped to make the motion stronger moving forward.
“It’s a great way to build ourselves a platform to continue to lobby the University against single-use plastic and raise awareness of the issue among the student body.
“I’d also like to thank everyone who supported the idea on the ideas page of the Union and would urge anyone who has any ideas they’d like to see put into practice in our SU to submit them via the SU website.”
Beach litter surveys organised by the Marine Conservation Society have shown the number of balloons and balloon pieces found on UK beaches has tripled in the last 10 years.
The Students’ Union have changed the way motions are submitted to Senate as of this academic year. The new system involves upvoting and downvoting motion ideas, so only those deemed important to students are debated within senate. This now means a motion idea must receive 50 upvotes for it to reach the Student Senate, and be debated and voted on. The motion to ban balloons in the SU reached 52 upvotes.
With the Annual General Meeting (AGM) scheduled for this week on Thursday, November 22, all current students at Cardiff University are eligible to vote on motions submitted to the agenda if they attend. In previous years, the AGM has started the ‘Periods in Poverty Campaign’, and the introduction of a Mental Health Campaign Officer.
If you would like to submit a motion to be debated at Student Senate, you can do so through their new upvote and downvote system at cardiffstudents.com/ideas.