The Green Minute: What Goes Up Must Come Down - Balloon Pollution
March 5, 2013

The Green Minute: What Goes Up Must Come Down – Balloon Pollution

Courtesy of Pat Byington, The Green Register Editor

A couple of weeks ago, while driving to church on a Sunday morning, my wife and nine-year-old daughter saw a cluster of 5-6 balloons floating toward downtown Birmingham, Alabama, our hometown. It was a pretty rare sight to see.

The balloons dipped and weaved above the city, moving along dozens of city blocks. We had some time to kill and, by chance, a nice overlook on a city overpass with parking spaces to see the balloons. So we stopped the car and watched the balloons progress on their journey for 5 minutes or so.

Finally, in the distance, the balloons appeared to come to rest in our family’s favorite city park – Railroad Park.

And after watching that brief dreamy balloon journey, suddenly like a balloon popping at a child’s birthday party, we quickly tallied up the potential environmental consequences the balloons would have on our beloved park.

My daughter said, “What about the birds? They can’t eat balloons. If the balloons fall and pop in the water, will the fish and turtles eat the balloons?”

She concluded, “What goes up must come down. It’s just litter!”

She was right of course, and I felt a little guilty stopping the car to watch those balloons make their journey. But, in the end it was a great lesson for us. We all love to see balloons drift and fly high into the sky.

Years ago, watching a balloon release at a friend’s funeral was quite uplifting. But the uncomfortable fact remains that they must come down somewhere.

And in the end, my daughter was right. It is litter and balloons hurt birds, turtles and all sorts of creatures.

For years, the Marine Conservation Society has been the leading organization globally on the issue of balloon pollution. They are not anti-balloons, they are just against releasing balloons outdoors and/or not disposing of them properly.

For today’s Green Minute, please visit the Marine Conservation Society’s factsheet about balloon pollution and their creative alternatives to releasing balloons.

Thankfully, there are eco-friendly and family friendly alternatives that include balloons.

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