Thursday, March 22, 2007

Up, Up, and Away!

On my first trip to a hawkwatch, I was surprised when I heard someone call out a "mylar." I was a new birder at the time, but I had been looking at bird books all my life and had never heard of a "mylar." It turns out that they were keeping an unofficial count of loose mylar balloons. As you probably know, balloons (both rubber and mylar) are a threat to wildlife, especially sea creatures that might mistake a balloon for a jellyfish. Three cheers to New Hampshire for trying to implement a $250 fine for the intentional release of balloons. I understand that people like to release balloons in honor of an event or a person, but there are many other ways to honor someone that cause less impact to the environment.

PS: It turns out that mylar balloons aren't really made of mylar. They are really just foil.

4 comments:

Beth said...

You read my mind! I was going to suggest that you write about this. I was just thinking about it the other day. Weird.

tai haku said...

Amazing how little, unnecessary things like balloons can cause problems but so few people know about them.

On a similar note I just discovered technorati and with it a post of yours I'd missed about that audubon corks campaign I linked in IATB - did you ever get any response from the wineries?

Patrick Belardo said...

Tai,
I sent a note to a few wineries, but I didn't hear anything back. I have to finish going through my list and sending the rest. I'll keep you posted.

Important Occasions said...

Whether it’s the impact upon wildlife or an increase of littering within the country-side, the views of many are causing an impact on balloon companies. USA state bans, event cancellations and campaigners are all adding to the media interest about the waste produced from mass balloon releases.

In Concord, Massachusetts a bill has been passed classing balloon releases in the same category as littering. If imposed strictly, a single balloon released into the atmosphere could impose a $250 fine by the ‘balloon police’.

Two e-petitions have appeared on the downing street web site within the last month. One requests a total ban and another in favour of banning foil and plastic products being released.

An “Eco-School” in Scotland has been praised by the “Marine Conservation Society” for cancelling its annual balloon release after being educated on its environmental concerns. The MCS produced a fact pack titled “Don’t let go” campaigning an end to death by balloon indigestion and the UK rivers network has advice for event organisers offering alternative balloon fundraising ideas.

While the balloon industry has sometimes shunned the wildlife impact, usually quoting references from an official 1989 paper where no link between wildlife death and latex balloon could be found, the increased awareness from major organisations has seen a shift to identifying a problem. The Balloon Association now gives blame to weighted or incorrectly inflated balloons not reaching a 5 mile height. It’s at this point a balloon will become brittle and shatter.

As a provider to balloon services, we have decided against offering balloon releases. Latex balloons used in our displays are 100% bio-degradeable.

balloons Coventry