Target: Hawaii Governor David Ige
Goal: Protect sea turtles, birds and marine life from pollution caused by helium balloons.
Helium balloons are used as decorations at parties, events, celebrations and memorial services. When a balloon is released — by accident or as a scheduled part of a ceremony — the balloon returns to the earth deflated and shredded.
The world’s oceans are already heavily polluted, jeopardizing the health of animals and fragile ecosystems. Balloons in particular are especially dangerous to sea turtles and other marine life. Animals mistake balloon particles for food, and when ingested the pieces block the digestive tract, making it impossible for animals to absorb nutrition to survive. Other pieces of deflated balloons, like ribbons and strings, can entangle marine birds, leaving them snared and helpless.
According to the Environmental Nature Center, balloons are the single most frequent piece of ocean debris. Although latex balloons are considered biodegradable, they take six months to four years to decompose. Mylar balloons are often coated in chemicals and metal finishes which are hazardous to the atmosphere as well.
California, Connecticut, Florida, Tennessee and Virginia are the only states that fully prohibit mass balloon releases. Hawaii has no such laws in place, but given its geography, Hawaii could prevent a great deal of pollution caused by balloons.
While balloons are typically symbolic of celebrations, there are other, more eco-friendly alternatives. Many nonprofits and awareness groups suggest blowing bubbles, releasing flowers into rivers or banners.
Please urge Governor Ige to prevent mass balloon releases and protect marine wildlife.
Dear Governor Ige,
As harmless and festive as balloons may look, they are extremely harmful to the environment.
When helium balloons are mass released in ceremonies or one becomes untied during an event, they return to earth deflated and often in pieces that compromise the safety of marine life. Animals like sea turtles mistake balloon fragments for food, and when eaten the pieces block the digestive tract, making eating and absorbing nutrition impossible. Other pieces, like strings and ribbons, can entangle birds making it difficult to move, fly or eat, often leaving them to starve to death.
Latex balloons are labeled biodegradable, but it takes anywhere from six months to four years to decompose — ample time to cause damage to animals and other marine life. Mylar balloons are no safer, often being coated in metallic finishes and other chemicals harmful to our atmosphere.
Balloons are considered the top contributor to ocean pollution, and there is no sign of relief. Only five states have bans on mass balloon releases. Hawaii could prevent pollution and needless animal deaths by enacting a statewide ban on balloon releases and educating the public about the hazards of balloons. Many nonprofits advocate for bubble blowing, releasing flowers into bodies of water and banners to commemorate celebrations, in lieu of balloons.
Take action to ban balloon releases, educate Hawaiians on the hazards of balloons and protect marine wildlife.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: P. Lindgren