I've been screaming this for years: STOP HOLDING BALLOON RELEASES! It appears that the Lafayette Consolidated Government sides with me on this one.

According to KATC TV3, the Environmental Quality Department of the Lafayette Consolidated Government is asking anyone who is contemplating holding a balloon release to consider a different type of celebration.

According to Bess Foret, manager for the department, some balloons can travel thousands of miles and cause lots of problems, including power outages, harm or death to animals, and, of course, create litter.

Balloons eventually deflate or burst and litter the land, bayous, rivers, lakes, and shorelines, negatively affecting the environment, wildlife, and marine life. - Bess Foret, via KATC

Foret also points out that balloons marked "Biodegradable" or "Eco-Friendly" can still cause the same problems as "regular" balloons, and still take years to break down.

According to the website Green Citizen, there is no such thing as an eco-friendly balloon. Even though some balloons do break down faster than others, no balloon degrades quickly enough to be considered friendly to the environment.  And the "testing" done by the balloon industry was not peer-reviewed (in other words: biased).

The Green Citizen does give some excellent alternatives to holding a balloon release:

  • Pinwheels - They look awesome and can be used over and over again.
  • Kites - the sight of several kites flying is both beautiful and intriguing, which can bring attention to your event or cause.
  • Bubbles - they are just as much fun as balloons but mostly harmless
  • Ribbons
  • Banners
  • Umbrellas
  • Flowers

I made comments on the air about my distaste for balloon releases several years ago, and I received some backlash from people who had just held a private balloon release. A child had died, and the family held a gathering to remember the child. At the gathering, family and friends wrote notes to the child and tied the notes to balloons, and released them. The premise was that the balloons would float up to heaven so the child can read the notes.

When I made the comment that the balloons don't go to heaven but, instead, go into our fields and marshes and bayous and bays, one of the family members took offense. Even though I had no idea that this particular balloon release had taken place, this particular family member took the comments personally. So much so, they confronted me about it at their place of employment when I went in to purchase a few items.

It caused a bit of a scene and, honestly, I was concerned for my safety, so I tried to avoid further confrontation by leaving the store.

I was able to forgive that person because I realized they were being fueled by grief, and I was just an easy target at which to direct the anger brought on by the grief.

Even so, grief is no reason to break the law and endanger wildlife. Grief is no reason to risk causing a power outage. Grief is no reason to litter.

Here's the bottom line: balloon releases are selfish and illegal, and should be discontinued.

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