Doing What We Can To Reduce Our Impact On the Environment At Virgin Balloon Flights

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We only have one planet, and the stunning vistas that make a hot air balloon ride such a breath-taking experience need our protection.

As COP26 gets underway in Glasgow, here are some of the ways we look to reduce our environmental impact here at Virgin Balloon Flights.

Upcycling Old Hot Air Balloons

Hot air balloon envelopes are made of a very strong, lightweight nylon material, each with a maximum number of ‘flying hours’ before we retire them.

So what we do we do with old envelopes that have reached the end of their working life?

We don’t send them to landfills – they are stored until we can upcycle or reuse them for something else!

Some have been used as insulating lining for the inner walls of our large workshop barn, while others we use to cover our large passenger baskets over the winter to protect them from dust and dirt.

Others have found new life as a ground sheet for laying concrete and other outdoor building work.

We are currently working with one Shropshire company that takes old and pre-loved fabrics to turn into bags, scarves and even headbands.

If you’re a company or even an individual that does similar, drop us an email and let’s see if we can work together!

Hot air balloon fabric is a great material for upcycling into:

  • Reusable shopping bags
  • Drawstring sports kit bags
  • A simple den kit (just add rope and a few eyelets)
  • Party bunting
  • Picnic blankets or outdoor cushions
  • Lightweight jackets (for those who really are a dab hand with a sewing machine)
  • Ground or floor sheets for decorating and DIY
  • Pretty much anything else you could make out of fabric!

Even our big hot air balloon baskets have gone on to find new life once we need to replace them – one was even transformed into a mobile drinks bar by its new owner.

Switching To Greener Alternatives

Earlier this year, we replaced all the fluorescent tube lighting our building came with when we first moved in almost 20 years ago with high-energy efficiency LED light panels.

These have significantly cut down our lighting energy consumption and have a much longer lifespan than our old system.

The LEDs are also significantly brighter than those old-fashioned fluorescent tubes – something that did take a bit of getting used to but also means we don’t need to have all the office lights turned on at once anymore.

Instead of a traditional kettle, we also have a Virgin Pure instant hot and cold water machine, meaning we only heat and chill the water we actually use when we need it.

An Environmentally Friendlier Office

For many years now, everyone here at Virgin Balloon Flights has worked on our ‘Green Office Plan.’

This includes as many small actions as we can to reduce waste, energy consumption, and our environmental impact.

  • All our customer service team make as many notes as they can on re-useable, dry-erase boards to keep our paper waste to a minimum.
  • Our office milk is delivered in glass bottles rather than plastic
  • Signs above all sinks remind staff not to let the water run when washing hands but to turn the faucet off until they’re ready to rinse
  • Only ever use the eco-mode on the office dishwasher and only put the dishwasher on once it is as full as possible
  • Opening windows all year round to keep the office cool and air flowing, with air conditioning, only used when it really is too hot for this to work

On The Ground

Many of the 4x4s used to tow and tether our iconic big red balloons run on LPG, a generally ‘cleaner’ fossil fuel than petrol or diesel.

At the moment, there isn’t an electric vehicle on the market with a high enough towing capacity (3.5 tonnes) for our balloon trailer rigs.

However, with the technology improving all the time, we are keeping a very close eye on electric 4x4 developments and hope to one day be able to replace our current vehicles with those that don’t run on fossil fuels.

What changes have you made in your working life to help reduce climate change?

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