FROM our "it was only a matter of time" file comes the call over the weekend for the end of balloons.

Balloons, like just about everything these days, are bad for the environment and they need to be banned.

This follows hot on the heels of the single-use plastic bag.

Although they are not gone yet, it looks like there might be a bit of traction towards them being on the way out.

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We are seeing plastic-free aisles and supermarkets are promising the end of bags.

Or charging for bags ... the noise has got loud enough for action to now be under way.

It's certainly more successful than the sugar tax debate.

They would appear to be banging their head against a wall, whereas bags have a bit of momentum. And this is the thing that frustrates people like me who like to deal with fact as opposed to theory.

The trouble that bags cause isn't that big.

No, they're not ideal for the environment, but of all the issues we have around rubbish, bags are a tiny percentage.

As I suspect are balloons.

So what the zealots are after are symbols - the things that we can all relate to.

Things that are part of our everyday lives.

It's like light rail.

Light rail doesn't solve anything transport-wise, but it's a symbol for where they want to take us.

The trouble with the balloons is, of course, the fun factor.

Just how many things do you want to ban before those who are following this debate with a bit of sense finally say: "You know what - you're taking the mickey."

Like carbon credits, carbon syncs and the international market for carbon, it's an invented solution that very few understand.

And even fewer would be convinced that it's actually changing a single thing.

Most of this is feel-good stuff.

It's like giving to charity - you don't know how much of it ever gets where you thought it might (you don't even ask), but you feel good about doing it.

I am just not sure how many 4-year-olds are going to be feeling as good when mum and dad tell them balloons are off.

NZ Herald