Our chapter successfully pushed for banning the intentional release of balloons on the East End, but balloons are still wreaking havoc on the environment since then. We want to take this a step further and ban the sale of balloons filled with helium or other lighter-than-air gases. These floating balloons have more potential to be hazardous because they are more likely to be accidentally lost and become debris. Banning the sale of such balloons would be an additional step towards making sure balloons are not littering our beaches and ocean, that they are not harming wildlife, or causing electrical fires.
The industry falsely claims that latex balloons are biodegradable, with estimated degrading rates similar to that of an oak leaf. This is simply not true, since latex balloons also contain additives that prevent them from degrading in the natural environment. Plus, gas-filled latex balloons are usually tied to a long plastic ribbon which do not degrade.
Mylar balloons are made of a durable plastic covered with a metallic coating. That metallic coating can conduct electricity and there are many instances of power outages fires being caused by mylar balloons when they float up into power lines.
East Hampton Trustee Susan McGraw-Keber led the fight to ban the sale of balloons on Long Island after successfully partnering with the local chapter on banning the intentional release of balloons in Suffolk County, NY.
The chapter wrote a letter of support to the East Hampton Town Board using data from our beach cleanups and spoke in three of their meetings, along with representatives from other environmental organizations. The ban passed unanimously in December 2021 and took effect on January 1, 2022. This effort was successful because of the local support from dozens of environmental groups, local businesses, school groups, and other activists — thank you all for making this happen!