Retiring Helium Balloons from Our Community
Helium balloons and real estate have a long history and that is exactly where the balloons need to stay – in the past. Just as we do with our technology, we need to do in other practices; we need to update. It’s important to look at what is in the best interest of our community, our fellow citizens and the environment we live and work in, and in doing so, helium balloons are not the answer. I know that we are a bit late in coming to the table of our environmentally conscious friends, but we are here now; committed to the retirement of helium balloons.
As the City of Winter Park noted in a memo last year, (which is posted below),
the negative effects of helium balloons are devastating aspects of our community; including but not limited to, littering our lakes, entangling and suffocating our wild life, sparking wild fires and clogging our drain pipes. I must admit I found this memo to be eye opening and educational. I am proud to announce that since the memo was released, Fannie Hillman + Associates has made a conscious effort to discontinue the use of helium balloons. We have retired them to the past.
Our office has turned to more environmentally friendly methods to attract the public to our open houses and community events. You may have seen our red flags blowing in the wind or fun pinwheels spinning while attached to our corrugated directional signs. We, at Fannie Hillman + Associates, are continuously looking and thinking outside the box for ways to attract and direct the public to our many events. Rest assured, we have taken a firm stand on retiring helium balloons.
The city’s memo brought the negative effects of helium balloons to my attention and my hope is by shedding light on this important community topic that those reading this will join the city in their efforts to eliminate helium balloons. Let’s come together, as a community, to better serve the area we live and work in; everyone can have a hand in keeping our city healthy and beautiful.
Memo from City of Winter Park:
The Harmful Effects of Helium Balloons
The harmful effects of balloons As the saying goes, “what goes up, must come down” and this is particularly true for balloons given out at public events and released into the environment. In fact, Florida law prohibits the outdoor release of balloons in accordance with Florida Statute 379.233, and it is punishable by a fine of $250. An estimated 30,000 balloons per day are found worldwide in the environment as litter. The Marine Conservation Society has reported a recent 260 percent increase in balloon pollution in Atlantic coastal waters alone. In Winter Park, balloon materials are found along the shoreline of many of our lakes and in tree canopies. Since animals are attracted to the bright colors found on balloons, they often mistake them as a potential food source. Once ingested, the balloons block the digestive system and can lead to starvation and death. In addition to being a digestive hazard, many animals die from entanglement in the ribbon or string that is attached to balloons. The strings often are found twisted around the feet and beaks of birds, particularly water birds. Balloons also pose a threat by causing power outages and the potential for fires. Mylar and foil balloons can spark easily and this can lead to a brush or forest fire. When balloons clog drains and drainage pipes, flooding can result. Balloons are not biodegradable and take decades to break down. They also release harmful chemicals into the soil and water as they decompose. Another concern is the use of helium, which is a nonrenewable resource. Since helium is needed for critical applications like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ventilators, and for deep sea and space exploration, it is best to save this limited resource for the important uses it serves. While balloons may be an eye-catching and attractive way to advertise an event or business venture, please consider offering environmentally-friendly alternatives like kites, pinwheels, or bubbles. These alternatives protect our wildlife from harm and keep damaging pollutants out of our waterways.