Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pretty Litter Dropped in the Sky

Far be it from me to spoil anyone's fun, but littering is just downright wrong.

You guessed it, I'm talking about balloon releases, usually done to commemorate someone dying or dead or those who have been able to put it off.

Everyone, in other words.

Even more senseless is the "balloon race" where the winner is the contestant whose rubbish lands the furthest away from the launch point.

Oh boy.

What makes it acceptable, or even anything less than ridiculous, to launch hundreds of thousands, millions in fact, of balloons into the air each year with no regard to where they travel or how they affect the planet?

Sure, it's a pretty thing to watch, all those colorful, happy little orbs of delight sailing triumphantly toward the sun, fragile and defiant. Who can resist their innocence and appeal?

Or something like that.

If you've never witnessed the wholesale littering of the planet by well-intentioned, but momentarily ignorant people, then do a Google image search of "balloon release." When I did it, I came up with 6,460 results.

Lots of pretty pictures.

What is disturbing about the photographs is that, in many (if not most) of them, the balloons are being released with string or ribbon attached.

Why is that disturbing?

Because even if the organizers of the balloon release have followed balloon industry standards and use biodegradable 100% latex balloons (which are thought to naturally decompose within six months), the attachments may last much longer, years in fact, as litter hanging in tree branches, for instance, or as potential snares for unsuspecting critters.

You caught me. I like trees and animals. Shame on me.

In one article I read, a woman told of how she filled a balloon with a packet of flower seeds and set it aloft every year to commemorate her father's death. Wow, that's deep and beautiful. And irresponsible and probably illegal, propagating species and all.

If that idea caught on in the sixties, the nation would be blanketed with marijuana fields.

There are other ways to have fun. Other ways to commemorate.

Plant a tree. Plant a bush. Plant seeds. On your own lot.

Buy some books for the local library.

Sponsor a 'Memorial Clean-Up.' Lots of stuff to clean. Balloon parts and string, for instance.

Adopt a highway.

Adopt a kid.

Say a prayer.

Release butterflies.

Release bees.


After releasing the bees.

But please: Don't litter.

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Sarah said...

Littering is a small act with big consequences. Thank you for that enlightening take on how to avoid marring our beautiful forests, parks, and other green places.

Litter bugs me!

Mark T. Alamed said...

Litter bugs me, too!

Seems as though every other time I take a walk in the woods I find balloon fragments or string.