The Campaign Story
Looe Marine Conservation Group (LMCG) developed the Throw Jelly Not Balloons campaign to persuade people to stop throwing water balloon bombs for fun at water festivals and raft races. Water balloons are a needless form of plastic pollution which harms wildlife and litters our beaches.
Balloon water bombs do not biodegrade and are harmful to marine animals which mistake them for food. We pioneered the use of seaweed jelly as a substitute for balloon water bombs traditionally thrown at Looe’s annual raft race. Jelly made from agar powder – a derivative of seaweed – provides an ideal environmentally friendly alternative.
Seaweed Jelly proved popular
The throwing of water balloons at raft race participants has long been a tradition at many water festivals. We were thrilled that the community in Looe all got on board with our message last year and recognised the need for change. The campaign was 100% successful in Looe with no balloons thrown at the Looe Raft Race.
BBC Supported Throw Jelly Not Balloons
The BBC in particular gave the campaign great exposure on TV and radio, creating these lasting video pieces. Watch the two BBC News clips ! Then the coastal towns of Polperro and Mevagissey followed Looe’s lead. The news travelled across the country to Lewes in Sussex where they ditched water balloons in favour of jelly bombs at their Ouseday celebrations.
In 2019, we’re hoping to share the message even more widely with Throw Jelly Not Balloons Take 2, demonstrating a way of avoiding harm to the marine environment whilst still having fun. This year, the plan is to get the message way beyond Cornwall’s borders. We want to engrain behaviour locally but also encourage other towns across the country where this tradition is prevalent, to adopt the practice of throwing jelly not balloons.”
So what is Seaweed Jelly?
It’s made from nothing but agar powder and water. Agar is widely used in catering and is derived from seaweed. It’s colourless, odourless, and environmentally benign. It’s not even sticky and doesn’t need to be refrigerated. It can be made up to 3 days in advance. You just boil it using 12g of powder to 1 litre of water, leave it to set overnight in a cool place, then scoop it into jelly balls using an ice-cream scoop. It ticks so many boxes from the point of view of being
- Kid friendly
- Environmentally benign
- Does not stain
- Does not hurt
- Easy to transport
- Easy to make in your own kitchen
- As a group volunteer exercise, it’s a great team building initiative
- Lobs like a water balloon
- Floats for a while before dissolving so can be thrown again
- Popular way to capture everyone’s imagination
- IT’S FUN AND HARMLESS
Throw Jelly Not Balloons Take 2 in 2019
To launch this year’s campaign, Looe Marine Conservation Group (LMCG) is holding a half term holiday event on May 28th at the Old Sardine Factory Heritage Centre on West Looe Quay. The afternoon of marine activities is designed to help visitors learn more about the issues of marine plastic. If more people take on board the campaign message ‘Throw Jelly Not Balloons’, we can prevent water-balloon litter entering the sea at water regattas across the county and beyond.
Seaweed Jelly Bonanza
The highlight of the afternoon will be throwing jelly made from seaweed at kayakers and paddle boarders in the Looe River as a rehearsal for Looe’s annual Raft Race on Sunday June 9. A book reading, marine arts and crafts and a jelly sensory play bath activity are part of the afternoon ‘takeover’ event (12.30-4.30 pm)
New Seaweed Jelly Video
For social media, LMCG has produced a step by step video with local Looe based chef Ben Palmer of the Old Sardine Factory Restaurant. He demonstrates how to make seaweed jelly from agar powder. The powder is widely used by chefs all over the world as a thickening agent and is totally harmless to the marine environment. The jelly can be made a day or two before needed and doesn’t need to be kept in a fridge!
Seaweed Jelly Powder available locally
LMCG volunteers will be making 250 litres of seaweed jelly for Looe Raft Race but have also collaborated with local grocery store ‘Quayside Fresh’ to make it easier for people to make their own environmentally friendly seaweed jelly at home. ‘Seaweed Jelly’ powder sachets will contain powder for 1 itre of jelly, come with cooking instructions and be available for a small donation.
Cornwall Wildlife Trust is sharing a ‘Throw Jelly Not Balloons’ resource pack via the YourShore network to all other marine groups across the county. We think our Throw Jelly Not Balloons initiative demonstrates environmental responsibility whilst not diluting the fun element of water festivals and regattas which are such a highlight of the summer calendar in our rivers and beaches across Cornwall.
Plastic Free Looe
Looe, a popular seaside town and historic fishing port in South East Cornwall, was recently afforded the status of Plastic Free Looe by Surfers Against Sewage to recognise the initiatives being undertaken in the town to rid itself of single use plastic. On the day of the annual raft race in Looe (June 9 at 11 am), LMCG will man several jelly/amnesty stations along the quayside for anyone who didn’t get the message in advance wanting to exchange water balloons for jelly. Free seaweed jelly will be donated to anyone bringing their own sandcastle bucket.