ECO Alphabet: Week 2: Balloons

Updated: Sep 17

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Happy Birthday!! Happy New Year!! Happy Valentines!! Get Well Soon!!

Balloons are used for practically any special occasion. As written by the blog, 1 Million Women, balloons fall into the category of

"plastic stuff we don't really need but think we do".

Plastic Pollution is the biggest threat to the ocean. You probably never really thought of balloons as single-use plastic or maybe even plastic at all.


There are 2 types of balloons: Latex and Mylar


Latex Balloons are often considered "biodegradable"; however, they float for about 10 hrs, but then take 4-6 years to degrade. That time frame gives them enough time to create significant damage... It is the perfect chance for animals to feed on them.


Mylar Balloons are made of Nylon. This material was originally created for the U.S. Space Program. These balloons are also coated in a toxic metallic finish and do not degrade at all.


In 2003, Volunteers collected 4,223 mylar & latex balloons on New Jersey Beaches alone.


Animals Affected

You're probably thinking this is going to be all about the sea turtles again... Yes, sea turtles are primarily at risk because they feed on jellies, but all wildlife is in danger.

Dr. Jean Lavers says that she finds balloons in about 1-in-20 seabirds.

When seabirds or any animal consume the balloons, the balloons block their digestive tracts causing the animal to starve.


After balloons are released, when they don't land on land they will fall into the ocean and travel hundreds of miles usually ending up in the Great Pacific or North Atlantic Garbage Patch. The balloons will break down into microplastics and cause physical harm to more animals from consumption and chemical harm to the balance of our oceans.


Just like straws, balloons are a small things creating a big problem.

Cleanups alone cannot solve our plastic problem, so we need to refuse the products from the start.


Alternatives to Balloon Releases

  • Bubbles

  • Streamers

  • Kites

  • Drumming

Some states have realized the impacts of balloons and have made it ILLEGAL to release balloons. These states include: Virginia, Florida, Connecticut, Tennessee, New York, Texas, and California.


Make the promise not to release balloons

You can have your class/organization/school/individual/friends/etc. make the promise not to release balloons by clicking the link above! The organization Balloons Blow, focuses on the education and awareness of balloons. They are a great location to get fact sheets or join the movement! (I am not partnered with Balloons Blow in any way).

Sources

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Gypsy del Oceano

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