Celebrations in a beachside California metropolis will quickly need to happen with out an iconic, single-use occasion favor: balloons.
The town council of Laguna Seaside, about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles, voted Tuesday to ban the sale and use of all forms of balloons, citing their contribution to ocean litter in addition to well being and security dangers from potential fires once they hit energy strains. Beginning in 2024, individuals utilizing balloons on public property or at metropolis occasions may incur fines of up to $500 for every violation. (Balloons used solely inside individuals’s residences are exempt from the ban.)
The vote is a part of a rising nationwide motion to limit balloon use, in addition to a broader item-by-item push to limit problematic single-use merchandise like plastic straws and baggage. For now, most balloon-related state and metropolis laws solely targets the intentional release of helium-filled balloons, however specialists say outright bans are gaining traction as individuals higher perceive their environmental penalties. Nantucket, Massachusetts, in 2016 banned any balloon crammed with a fuel that’s lighter than air, and there are related bans in locations like East Hampton, New York, and Solana Beach and Encinitas, California.
“Plastic within the ocean and atmosphere usually is gaining extra consideration,” Chad Nelsen, chief govt of the nonprofit environmental group Surfrider Basis, informed Grist. “It’s good that individuals are these disposable, single-use gadgets that we have now been utilizing on daily basis and never excited about the results.” He mentioned California seaside cleanups organized by Surfrider in 2022 collected a complete of practically 2,500 balloons.”
Balloons, particularly these crammed with helium, typically change into ocean air pollution after just some hours of use. These manufactured from latex — a sort of delicate, artificial or pure materials that will take decades to break down — may be mistaken for meals by marine animals and birds. When ingested, latex can conform to birds’ abdomen cavities, inflicting nutrient deficiency or suffocation.
Balloons manufactured from mylar, a sort of plastic coated in skinny metallic, principally by no means break down. “They stick round really till the tip of time,” Kara Wiggin, a doctoral researcher on the Scripps Establishment of Oceanography, informed me. The plastic strings hooked up to them can strangle marine life after which chip into microplastics that contaminate consuming water and the meals chain.
Mylar balloons also can get tangled in energy strains, resulting in energy outages or fires. In response to town of Riverside, California, balloons precipitated greater than 1,300 minutes of energy outages for its publicly owned water and electrical utility in 2021. Different cities and utilities report thousands of ratepayers losing power each year when balloons get caught in energy strains.
Wiggin mentioned balloons are only a small a part of society’s broader habit to single-use gadgets, however that banning them is “low-hanging fruit.” “We don’t throw issues purposefully into the atmosphere, however we regularly do this with balloons,” she informed Grist. “That’s a follow that must be stopped.”
Nelsen mentioned there are plenty of balloon-free ways to keep the fun going, together with paper-based decorations, streamers, flags, kites, and pinwheels — lots of which may be safely reused dozens of occasions. “Let’s discover a option to rejoice children’ birthdays with out killing marine life,” he mentioned.
This text initially appeared in Grist at https://grist.org/cities/heres-why-a-california-beach-town-just-banned-balloons/. Grist is a nonprofit, unbiased media group devoted to telling tales of local weather options and a simply future. Be taught extra at Grist.org