This weekend our family enjoyed a fabulous day of art and culture at an event called Parade the Circle. It literally brings art and culture to life when participants create interpretations of famous works of art and their artists through costumes, music and some of the most creative props I have ever seen.
After the parade the activities continued in a large park and we were enjoying the event until I noticed them dismantling the six enormous balloon arches that were used in the parade. By ones, twos, (SEVENS!), groups of balloons took to the sky… and I simply thought “Oh no. Someone make them stop!”
I’ve always been leery of balloons for the simple fear of my kids choking on one of them. But there is also an on-going debate about the environmental effect of balloons, and that is what concerned me with this event.
The balloon industry argues that, because they are made of latex, they biodegrade at the same rate as an oak leaf and have no effect on the environment. But environmentalists will disagree that the concern isn’t so much about their biodegradability, but the effect they have on animals that mistake them for food and consume them once they burst or come back down to ground. Animals also become entangled in the strings and ribbons that are still attached.
Studies of marine animals that have beached themselves have turned up digestive systems blocked with deflated or partial deflated balloons, suggesting that they actually beached themselves to get out of their painful misery. That’s all I need to hear.
While I’m not suggesting that we all swear off balloons (because my kids would definitely be bummed!) I am suggesting that we take responsibility in just four simple ways:
- Keep balloons indoors
- Never purposely release them into the sky
- When they are outdoors, weight them down to prevent “escape” and
- Detach the strings and simply dispose of them properly when you’re finished with them
Everyone loves a parade and every kid loves a balloon, but what goes up must come down, and it’s a landing that can have a harsh and destructive reality.