Opinion: Balloon Release Celebrations Hurt Environment


Wilma Farmer

A set of balloons fell onto a Texas farm Sept. 19.

Seniors will release balloons today to celebrate their final Homecoming. 100% of these balloons will fall to the ground.

The school should not release balloons.

The amount of plastic that is released every year kills over 100,000 marine mammals. The majority of the plastic are fishing nets. The only reason these are dangerous to everything is simply because they do what they are designed to do, which is to tangle things. The difference between these two is that netting is not often found in the stomachs of sea turtles that eat Jellyfish.  Balloons tend to mimic jellyfish in the way they float on the water. This makes it more likely that leatherback sea turtles will make a mistake. Over 52% of sea turtles have eaten plastic and over 1,000 sea turtles have died from plastic. 

 There may be an argument for this not having anything to do with landlocked Lampasas. However, rivers can drag plastics to bigger rivers which in turn go to the ocean. Even though the Lampasas river doesn’t go to the ocean, there are still micro plastics. Micro plastics can mess with the gastrointestinal tracts of animals and make the animals think they do not need to eat. These animals will starve to death. The way this can affect the food web can lead to extinction events, and every balloon released contributes to this. 

Cows eat plastic as well. It’s not only fish. Over 1,000,000 cows a year die from eating plastic, mostly balloons and plastic bags. This could affect local ranchers even more than big corporations. Cows sell for around $2,000 each, so this hurts ranchers’ businesses. 

Instead of releasing balloons, the school should try lighting candles or lanterns. A candle or lantern lighting would still offer a fun celebration for seniors, with a nice aesthetic for memorable photos, without leaving any pollution. 

 The ideal solution is one where everybody wins.