We have all heard that balloons are bad for the environment, but why? Balloons for birthdays, celebrations, and memorials are common but imagine what happens to those balloons after they’ve deflated or floated away. Most people have seen the photos of sea turtles ingesting balloons and they do pose a problem to marine life, but their reach is much broader.
Even in the middle of the desert balloons wreak havoc. Desert tortoise and bighorn sheep have been known to ingest balloons and die as a result. In addition, birds are frequently found entangled in strings attached to the balloons. Even humans can be negatively affected as balloons become entangled in power lines and cause power outages. Balloon releases are even illegal in several states and can land you with hefty fines.
Some people switch to paper lanterns which may seem like a great alternative but can actually be more hazardous. Animals are still found entangled in the lanterns and the lanterns have even been known to cause fires.
How You Can Help
The first step to fighting the balloon problem is to refuse balloons. Even latex balloons that are marketed as biodegradable take months to years to biodegrade and can cause damage long before they decompose. Simply saying no to balloons keeps them out of the environment all together.
Find alternatives to balloons that are environmentally friendly. Celebrating special occasions and lives lost is important and there are creative ways to continue these celebrations without endangering wildlife. Below is a list of balloon alternatives that are sea turtle approved!
Bubbles give celebrations a fun pop!
- Live plants for remembrance occasions
- Kite flying
- Financial Donations
- Flower Petals
- Candle lighting ceremony
- Paper Banners
- Local Wildflower Seeds
- Bird Seed
August 5, 2015, and ) |. “Balloons and Wildlife: Please Don’t Release Your Balloons.” Official Web Page of the U S Fish and Wildlife Service, www.fws.gov/news/blog/index.cfm/2015/8/5/balloons-and-wildlife-please-dont-release-your-balloons.
Duncan, Debra. “Balloons.” Environmental Nature Center, encenter.org/visit-us/programs/birthday-parties/balloons/.