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#103 Balloons

#103 Balloons

Did you know a single helium balloon can travel thousands of miles before falling to the planet as litter? Or, that “eco-friendly” balloons are just as toxic to our environment as regular balloons? Balloons have been used in celebrations since the first created in 1824, but as we shed light on the harmful effects on our planet, we hope you will reconsider its use in future celebrations.

The Case Of Mistaken Identity:

Millions of balloons are released annually in America. From celebrations to weather monitoring, these seemingly celebratory objects are harming wildlife and polluting our environment. Everyday balloons are found washed up on beaches, in lakes and streams, and on land. While balloon litter is a serious concern for environmentalists, there is an even more devastating part to balloon litter. Birds, sea turtles, whales, sheep, and other animals have been killed by mistaking balloon waste for their next meal. When a balloon pops, it turns into a shredded piece of latex, as seen below, that is commonly mistaken for jellyfish and other creatures. Once eaten, it can get lodged in the animals digestive tract and cause starvation. Strings attached to balloons are also a serious issue by entangling land and sea animals greatly reducing their mobility. There are a number of states and counties that have restricted the release of balloons, but many people don’t obey these unknown laws.

Balloon Facts:

  • In 2017, the Alliance of the Great Lakes reported finding 3,604 balloons on Lake Michigan and 7,196 throughout all of the Great Lakes.

  • A 2019 report stated that balloons are the single deadliest form of marine plastic for seabirds.

  • A report titled Ocean Conservancy Beach Debris Data shows 1000’s of balloons pulled from waterways and the coast.

  • Balloons have become the most common debris over the last 5 years on New England coastlines.

  • Falsely-marketed as “biodegradable”, latex balloons contain chemicals & can take years to break down.

  • Helium is a non-renewable resource & experts warn it should be conserved for more important applications.

  • States including but not limited to California, Connecticut, Florida, Tennessee, New York, Texas, and Virginia have recently passed legislation restricting the release of balloons not used in scientific experiments.

How can I make an impact:

Tier 1: Global Goodness

  • Stop purchasing balloons entirely.

  • There are numerous environmentally friendly alternatives to releasing balloons. Opt for giving flowers, planting trees, making banners, flags  or paper pom-poms instead of balloons. Search online for additional eco-friendly alternatives to balloons

  • Watch the Rubber Jelly Fish Trailer.

Tier 2: Planet Protector

  • All of Action 1

  • Educate others on the harmful effects of balloons.

  • Choose sustainable products and be mindful of how each decision we make impacts the entire planet.

Tier 3: Earth Angel

Facts References: 

balloons

Balloons Blow

http://sustainability.umich.edu/news/balloon-release-impact

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