What goes up, must come down.
When it comes to decorations and events, what is the first thing you think of? Most often ... it's balloons. When you think of birthdays, I bet you think of balloons. How about surprise parties? Do you also think of balloons? What about community events or school functions? I bet you think of balloons AND a balloon release, especially if the event is to commemorate something, or someone. Well, did you ever realize that all of these events can actually go off without a hitch even if there are no balloons involved? But why would anyone leave out the balloons? Well, simple, because it's because they are a waste of money AND terrible for the environment.
When you release balloons into the sky they do not make it to outer space. Fact check! - The balloons pop. Then, fall back to the ground or ocean. THEN .... wildlife and marine animals ingest the balloons, along with plastic shopping bags, plastic straws, & other types of plastics because they are mistaken for jellyfish, plankton, or other types of food. These items block their intestines and cause them to starve to death. Now, your seemingly harmful, and positive event, has caused a fatal and gruesome end to other species who live on this planet with us. And, it was all because you wanted to have balloons at your event and/or send them into the sky.
4Ocean is one of my favorite partner organizations. Started by two surfers, these friends started cleaning up the waters they were in during their surfing adventures. Now, they sell bracelets which fund their ocean clean up events all over the world. I've read several times that toothbrushes, plastic bottles, and balloons are among the most frequent items pulled from the oceans during clean up events, and not just with 4Ocean.
The Ocean Conservancy’s annual International Coastal Cleanup reports that from 2008 to 2016 almost 300,000 balloons were found along U.S. beaches. That is just astonishing!!
I know change is hard BUT if your action can prevent another life from being taken, wouldn't you want to do all you can to save lives instead of being responsible for taking lives?
Here are a few fun ideas to do instead of balloon release:
Blow bubbles! Who doesn't love bubbles!?!?!
Fly flags or reusable banners instead
Instead of streamers or balloons, try flying kites or garden spinners. These bright items can attract more attention to your event/cause while also being safe for the environment.
This one is my personal favorite - if you really want to honor someone, try planting a tree or making a memorable garden. It will help clean the air, provide for the pollinators, AND pretty to look at!
Never release a balloon into the air and if you find balloons, ribbons, streamers, etc out in the environment, try to pick up and dispose of them, properly.
If you should for some reason end up with a balloon, please remember to pop it and dispose of it properly (cut the balloon and cut up the ribbon/streamers).
Just remember that humans are not the only ones living on Earth. We share Earth with millions of other species. Have respect for them and have respect for our planet. After all, it's the only we we have to call home.