Palmetto Pride: Balloon releases can be deadly to wildlife

Palmetto Pride: Balloon releases can be deadly to wildlife

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Between graduations and summer weddings, celebration season is upon us.

During this time of year, we often see balloon releases for graduations and other big events. While the balloons are pretty going up, they can turn deadly for wildlife on the way back down.

“When you see animals who have died from ingesting plastics and other types of pollution,” said Sarah Lyles, the executive director of anti-litter group Palmetto Pride. “It’s just heartbreaking.”

Lyles said that pretty balloon ribbon could turn into a death trap for animals that get caught in the way.

“What’s usually attached to it is some type of ribbon that’s made from a plastic and the balloon itself is made of mylar or latex,” Lyles said. “Our animals get tangled up in them. It’s like cigarette butts, people don’t think that it’s litter, but it is.”

Lyles said she doesn’t think people are doing the releases maliciously. She believes they just aren’t putting thought into what happens when their event is over. She’s asking that folks think of eco-friendly alternatives for their celebrations.

“If you want to do the helium balloons, just make sure you dispose of them properly,” she said. “Do not release them, and if you’re looking to release something, look for natural alternatives.”

Lyles said many people are turning to bubbles instead of balloons. She’s hoping that this summer, your party doesn’t treat our wildlife poorly.

“We just want people to be responsible and have a good celebration, but let’s think about how it’s going to affect our environment and how it’s going to affect our communities,” Lyles said.

Lyles also said that some people are actually having tree planting parties as an alternative to the balloon release. She said you don’t have to cancel balloons from your festivities if you’re planning on disposing of them properly. She’s just encouraging you to avoid releasing them.

Copyright 2019 WIS. All rights reserved.