With plastic straws and now ketchup packets potentially on their way out, environmental advocates have set their sights on a new single-use plastic: balloons. The popular party decoration has long earned criticism for the pollution it causes and harm it poses to wildlife, but recent policy changes indicate there’s a growing momentum against balloons — and even support for full bans.
In July, Clemson University announced it was ending its game day tradition of releasing 10,00 balloons as football players run down the hill at Memorial Stadium. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln may follow suit, as pressure builds for the school to stop its own ritual of releasing red balloons during the first score of the game. The non-profit Balloons Blow recently rented a billboard in Lincoln imploring Huskers to “stop littering, end the balloon release!” It will remain up for the next three weeks, as students start a new semester.
But the campaign extends beyond college campuses. The town of New Shoreham, Rhode Island voted to ban the sale and use of balloons back in April, promising a $200 fine for any offenders.