By: Leah Henry
Releasing a helium-filled balloon into the air may seem liberating, symbolic, and even celebratory. It is also littering, because after balloons go up, they also come down.
Being that over 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered in water, the chance that the deflated balloon will land in a receptacle instead of our ocean is highly unlikely. In fact, volunteers all over the country often find balloons when doing marine debris cleanups.
So why does this matter? Those lifeless pieces of rubber, latex, or plastic wind up in the ocean, where marine animals may mistake them for food and eat them – blocking the animal from eating the food it needs to stay alive. Sadly, the strings or ribbons can wrap around their necks, fins, or flippers, cutting into their flesh causing severe damage or preventing them from hunting.
If you use balloons for a celebration, please don’t release them into the air. For outdoor celebrations, here are some alternatives:
- Plant a ceremonious tree.
- Use pinwheels from used materials.
- Blow bubbles.
- Dedicate a park bench.
If you do use balloons, secure them tightly and think twice before you let go!