ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY DIVISION DISCOURAGES BALLOON RELEASES
Lafayette, LA – Lafayette Consolidated Government’s (LCG) Environmental Quality Manager Bess Foret reminds and encourages those planning a balloon release to consider alternatives. Balloons have long been used to celebrate an occasion, raise awareness for a cause, or honor the memory of a loved one, but Foret said most people don’t consider the dangerous effects. “Balloons eventually deflate or burst and litter the land, bayous, rivers, lakes, and shorelines, negatively affecting the environment, wildlife, and marine life,” she said.
Helium-filled latex and foil (Mylar) balloons can travel thousands of miles, posing a multitude of dangers once they land. “Land animals, birds, and marine animals, such as fish, sea turtles, and dolphins can become entangled in balloon strings, and they also mistake balloons for food. Once ingested, a balloon can block the digestive tract, eventually killing the animal,” Foret said.
In addition to harming animals, balloons are also harmful to the environment. Foil balloons never decompose, and latex balloons can take as long as four years to break down. Foret added, “Even balloons marketed as biodegradable or eco-friendly can still take years to disintegrate, so they are not any better for the environment than standard balloons.”
Recently, after learning about the adverse effects of balloon releases, Meaningful Minds of Louisiana Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Randal-Thorpe, who had planned a balloon release, instead opted for a bubble release at Girard Park to celebrate National Recovery Month. Foret urges others to follow suit and find more sustainable and humane alternatives that are safer for animals and the planet.
One of the big appeals of a balloon release is watching them ascend. Use bubbles, an eco-friendly alternative that replicate the same effect. A crowd blowing bubbles in unison creates a magical experience. For a greater impact, use a giant bubble wand or an automatic bubble machine.
Float Flowers in Water
A mass release of flowers in a pond or waterway creates a beautiful memorial. For maximum environmental friendliness, choose locally-grown flowers rather than imported ones. Friends and family can place flowers into the water from a bank or a boat
Flags, Banners, Streamers and Dancing Inflatables
Many businesses are realizing the benefits of using reusable, eye-catching signage. Colorful streamers, flags, and banners save money and time compared to inflating balloons with helium and attaching ribbons.
Purchase or make pinwheels for participants to hold, then plant them in the ground to create a temporary pinwheel garden.
Plant Trees or Native Flowers
You can create a place to return to year after year. Search for a species that connects you to your loved one (use the language of flowers to find the perfect one), or select a species that might bloom at a significant time of year (their birthday, anniversary of death, or another special reason).
Purchase or make a kite, add decorations, drawings, and notes prior to flying.