We’ve written quite a bit about the environmental hazards of litter and plastic pollution. Thanks to an organization called Balloons Blow, which concentrates on cleaning up Florida beaches and educating about litter, the downside of pretty party balloons is getting more exposure. Nothing is more symbolic of celebration than a bobbing bouquet of bright helium-filled balloons, latex or mylar, but the sad fact is that balloons and balloon bunches escape. Occasionally they are even released en masse on purpose, a practice which has to end. (Some states have outlawed balloon releases.) And incidentally, there is the matter of the helium, which is not in unlimited supply.
It wasn’t too many years ago that my son’s Boy Scout troop released helium-filled latex balloons (no ribbons)– falsely believing them to be biodegradable and without harm– just as an amusement, to see whose balloon would drift the furthest.
Knowing better now, as we’ve learned from picking up litter and disentangling ribbons and deflated balloons from trees and shrubbery, we wanted to pass on the educational information that Balloons Blow has prepared to share with others about this not-so-small component of marine and terrestrial pollution.
Don’t let balloons go free! And by all means use the factsheet to discourage balloon release events, should you get wind of them.