Banning Of Balloon Releases Moves To Delaware House Of Representatives

SB24 on balloon releases goes to House

(March 15th, 2021) … YOUR ACTION NEEDED ON SENATE BILL 24 The Delaware House of Representatives is now considering Senator Stephanie Hansen’s Senate Bill 24 which would clarify the law related to littering that intentional releases of balloons is not allowed just as in other forms of litter.  SB24 passed the Senate last week on a vote of 19-1-1.  It is set to be heard before the House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday, March 17th at noon.

Mother’s day balloon found on Mother’s day. Nothing says let’s celebrate mother earth by smothering her life better than a released mylar balloon.

This is an important piece of legislation because balloons:

Cause harm, and even death, to both wild and domestic animals.  This is true of both mylar and latex balloons, as well as the strings which do not readily biodegrade

Cause power outages

Are an unsustainable use of helium which is actually in short supply and is a product of extraction industries which contribute to climate change.  Once released to the atmosphere it is not retrievable. Helium needs to be reserved for more important priorities such as use in the health care industry

Latex is not biodegradable, nor are any forms of “biodegradable” balloons considered a solution as the definition of the term “biodegradable” is not regulated and is a form of greenwashing, deflecting from the need for actual behavioral change. 

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Great alternatives do exist for use at commemorative events such as candles, blowing giant bubbles, flags, streamers, kites, drumming, organizing a charity event such as a book drive or a 5k run, or planting trees or gardens.

Many local governments across the U.S., and more than five other states currently have similar laws in place, including Virginia, New Hampshire, Florida, Connecticut, and California.  The Maryland legislature is also in the process of considering a bill now. Their bill has cleared their House of Delegates and is before the Senate now.

Mylar Balloon being buried in a mini dune of sand

Senate Bill 24 arises in part from the Anti-Dumping and Anti-Littering Task Force which was co-chaired by Sen. Hansen and Rep. Rich Collins and completed its report about two years ago.  As part of its work, the Anti-Littering Task Force sent letters in 2018 to Delaware’s local governments seeking to encourage policies to outlaw balloons in festivals and parades.  Another letter was sent to members of the Delaware Association of Funeral Directors to raise awareness of the issues embodied in balloon releases.  Yet balloons still remain a very prevalent form of trash found during our weekly beach cleanups and in the annual Coastal Cleanup.

More information available HERE and HERE.
Please take action on this important legislation by calling or emailing your state Representative to ask for their support of the bill.  Passage of the legislation should help keep our beaches and marine environments cleaner, safter for animals, and elevate awareness of the important environmental issues related to balloon releases

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Captain Sharon Dounce on the Kalmar Nyckel retrieving a mylar balloon while the ship is underway.

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