by Marsha Rakestraw

We humans love balloons.

We use them for decorations and gifts. We twist them into shapes.

We release them in the hundreds or thousands to celebrate or memorialize.

But those balloons have a significant negative impact on animals and the earth.

Balloons are litter. Even if they aren’t released, they end up in landfills and in wild spaces.

And because they’re not actually biodegradable (plasticizers, dyes, and other chemicals are added to the natural latex, and mylar balloons are definitely not meant to degrade), they’re around for years.

When released airborne, they can travel thousands of miles.

Numerous wild animals, both on land and sea, either eat them or become entangled in them, causing suffering and death.

Fortunately, as more organizations and communities are learning about the harmful impacts, they are choosing not to release or use balloons.

Balloons Blow offers numerous suggestions for alternatives (though many of their suggestions generate waste and thus aren’t as eco-friendly as we’d like).

Some notable ideas for parties include:

  • wildflower seed bombs
  • bubbles
  • reusable flags and banners
  • ribbon dancers

And for memorials and celebrations, consider:

  • planting a native plant or tree
  • lighting candles
  • writing in chalk
  • sponsoring a bench in a natural area
  • making a stepping stone
  • using flying wish paper

We may be reluctant to let go of balloons, because they’re pretty and fun, and we’re used to them.

But like anything else, our desire for balloons is a developed habit.

When we choose to use alternatives that do more good and less harm, those will become our new “normal,” and our attachment to balloons will fade away.

 

Be sure to forward this to at least ONE person who would benefit from these resources.

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