Well, I’m very bummed to report that despite receiving calls from many people requesting that no balloons be released during the ceremony on Memorial Day, Green Hills Memorial Park went ahead and released 1,500 balloons anyway. A friend who attended the ceremony reported that one of the speakers commented the balloons were floating inland and not toward the ocean.
That’s ridiculous! No matter where a balloon lands in the Los Angeles area it will be trash, it’s just a matter of whether it ends up in a landfill or in the ocean. And unless kind people across the city pick up the soon to be limp balloons strewn about town, the balloons will eventually become ocean trash.
Below ground lurks Los Angeles County’s extensive storm drain system. These pipes collect rainwater and stormwater runoff and send it straight to the ocean. Most of the drains designed to receive water along the streets have little bars or grates on them to prevent trash from slipping through, but inevitably trash always slips through. And a balloon is the perfect size piece of trash to sneak through the grates. Once it rains, water rushes into the storm drain system and washes everything straight to the ocean.
The ocean already faces enough challenges so please don’t add balloons to the mix. There’s no reason to release balloons for any occasion. Use flowers, hire musicians or read poetry, do anything but release balloons. Our ocean and marine life are priceless compared to the short-lived thrill of releasing balloons. People who attended the ceremony on Monday are already back to work going about their daily lives not even thinking about the balloons, but for the animals that live in the ocean it’s a much different story.