Repurposing Hot Air Balloons With TERN and You, the Great British Public!

Can you repurpose a retired hot air balloon envelope?

Reading Time - 2 minutes

Here at Virgin Balloon Flights, we have partnered with TERN, the entrepreneurial refugee network to repurpose retired hot air balloon envelopes.

As our balloons can only do 600 hours before they have to be retired, considering we have over 100 launch sites and over 20 pilots with 10000 passengers, you can imagine how many hot air balloon envelopes we use!

So, we wanted to create a way to reuse these envelopes without sending them to landfills, and parenting with Tern was the perfect way!

We’re calling on you, the British public, to pitch ideas for re-purposing these retired balloon envelopes, which are made up of 34,000 square feet of resistant material, enough to cover 16 football pitches!

So far, the TERN crew has made products including aprons, picnic blankets, bags, bikinis, picnic blankets, and aprons. We also have another great ambassador for repurposing the balloons, Lisa Crick, who made bags from the material. Her website can be found at

Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson, famous also for completing the first trans-Atlantic flight in a hot air balloon, commented: “This is a fantastic initiative by one of our very special Virgin companies – ballooning is such a marvelous way to see the world we live in. These balloon envelopes have played host to so many people’s adventures, and now they are being given a second life to take part in new adventures in the form of a picnic blanket, bag, or cape. I’m in admiration of the entrepreneurial spirit of TERN’s Maria and Teem – and I urge anyone with an idea, big or small, to come forward!”

How to apply for balloon fabric

To apply and for full terms and conditions, head to Up, Upcycled and Away on the Virgin Balloon Website. Enter your details along with how you imagine using the material. Entries will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, with Virgin Balloon Flights aiming to distribute as much of the material as feasible.

Check out the video here with Sir Richard Branson explaining how important the campaign is.

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