We’ve all seen it, a beautiful memorial for a loved one out at the beach, and then a flurry of balloons are released into the sky.
But have you ever thought about what happens to those balloons when they pop? The vision of pieces of latex and string falling to the ground or into the ocean aren’t what you think of when you picture that sentimental memorial.
The truth is that balloon releases are a seriously problem causing a serious amount of liter. Yes, you read that right, balloon releases are littering. No, it’s not the same as throwing a wrapper out the window of your car, in a way it’s worse.
Thousands of pieces of balloon trash are cleaned up every year along our beaches, and that doesn’t even include the scraps that end up being eaten by marine animals. Many marine species, including turtles and dolphins, accidentally eat balloons because they think they are food. This blocks their stomach and can cause them to die. Animals also get entangled in balloons and balloon strings.
What can you do to prevent more balloon releases?
Education is the key to stopping balloon releases. Most people aren’t out looking for ways intentionally hurt the environment and wildlife. In addition to being bad for the environment, balloon releases in Florida are illegal under Florida State Statute 379.233. The organization, Balloons Blow, is working to spread the word about dangers of balloon releases.
If you hear of a balloon release being planned in your area, alert the local media as well as the local authorities. You can also suggest alternatives to a balloon release that are more environmentally friendly.
Instead of releasing balloons, try one of these alternatives!
Candles – Consider a candle light vigil or even light a path using luminaries that can be cleaned up and properly disposed of.
Bubbles – Bubbles are a great alternative for kids. They’re inexpensive and you can even take them with you when the event is over.
Plant a Tree – A more traditional way to honor a loved one, if you purchase from a local nursery then you’ll also be supporting a local business.
Spread Seeds – Wildflower seeds spread in a backyard or at a park can be a great way to memorialize a loved one.
Streamers/Ribbons on a Stick – These are easy to make or you can buy them for a small price. They’re fun for kids and adults!
Kites – Who doesn’t love kites? If your balloon release is scheduled for a breezy day then kites can be a great alternative to balloons.
Pinwheels – Another fun alternative for kids and they can take them home when the memorial is over.
Painted Rocks – Painting rocks as part as the Kindness Rocks initiave is a great way to honor those you love. Rocks can be hidden at local parks throughout town.
Flower Petals – Flower petals are bright and colorful, and completely natural. They make a great alternative to balloons.
Links to alternative release products are affiliate, but everything listed above is available from a local retailer in your area.
If you want to learn more about the perils of balloon releases, visit Balloons Blow. You can also get involved in beach cleanups in the Jacksonville area, and educate your neighbors about the damages caused by releasing litter into the air.
Shannon Beckham is a former Special Education teacher, turned SAHM that doesn’t spend a lot of time staying at home. Mom to Cole & Kiley, she loves cheering on the Gators, early morning visits to the beach and traveling with her family. She blogs about her adventures at The Beckham Project.