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Thortful climbdown over helium facts

But md says online card retail will still avoid foil balloon sales


Thortful md Pip Heywood has held up her hands to admit the online greeting card company hadn’t fully checked the facts over its helium balloon stance – but still won’t sell the product.

“Unlike Westminster, we’re pretty comfortable admitting when our facts haven’t checked out,” Pip wrote in the social media posts at the weekend, accompanied by a minute-long video, which can be seen below.

And she urged people to watch the clip confirming the helium found in balloons “isn’t actually the spawn of Satan”, but said “because they’re single use and their recyclability is tricky” the internet marketplace, where artists and publishers upload their card designs for sale to the public, still won’t be stocking the products.

In the video, Pip admitted: “So it seems we weren’t 100% right about the helium in helium balloons and we’re happy to be fact-checked and call ourselves out.”

Highlighting the good work of Cardfactory, which provides an in-store service with Terracycle to responsibly recycle foil balloons, Pip also referred to Australia’s Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act where the advice is to bin them.

Pointing to Thortful’s credentials as a greeting card company that prints 100% recyclable cards using vegan inks on the UK mainland, uses eco-friendly delivery methods like your local postie and DPD, and has partnered with Ecologi to plant trees and help sustainability efforts, Pip said: “we’ve still put them in the not for Thortful bucket.”

Above: Pip Heywood accepted her facts weren’t completely right
Above: Pip Heywood accepted her facts weren’t completely right

The weekend post comes following Thortful’s initial decision to turn down a £400,000 opportunity to stock foil helium balloons, revealed in a hard-hitting Instagram post explaining the company felt party decorations and celebrations are not the most pressing use for the world’s extremely limited supply of helium.

Then last week the Balloon And Party Industry Alliance (BAPIA), the UK’s largest trade organisation for the industry, responded with information that industrial gas suppliers prioritise providing pure liquid helium for critical medical uses such as MRI scanners in hospitals, ensuring they remain fully operational, while helium for balloons is a different product. It is impure and gaseous, and produced as a by-product of supplying liquid helium for the MRI market.

Comments on Pip’s video acknowledged the climbdown, but a number of balloon retailers and artists pointed out that they often refill and reuse the foil versions in displays, as well as recycling within decorations for rental and passing on for crafting use.

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