(WKBN) – Balloon releases are one type of littering that causes major issues for electric companies and can threaten wildlife.
Often times, a balloon release is in memoriam of a lost loved one, or in celebration. That may be one reason why people aren’t being fined or jailed for them.
“Approaching them in that very emotional state, they’re not going to be really happy to hear us say ‘You’re littering, you need to do something different,'” said Coalition Against Releasing Balloons in Ohio member Michelle Robb.
CARBOhio wants the practice to end because it’s dangerous for the environment.
“Strangely to me, there was also this huge conversation about plastic straws and plastic bags so I’m thinking, ‘How are we missing the low-hanging fruit?’ It’s like, ‘Duh, it’s going right over our heads – balloon releases,'” CARBOhio member Donna Miller said.
There is currently no legislation or wording specifically stating balloon releases are illegal in Ohio – but the group argues it’s no different than throwing trash into the sky and letting it fall to the ground.
“Guys, balloon releases are littering and they are illegal,” Miller said.
CARBOhio was founded in 2020 and they have 1,000 signatures for a petition to bring a law banning balloon releases. But so far, legislators haven’t bitten.
Instead, they’re encouraging people to reach out to local leaders.
They’re not the only group worried about this – farmers find shiny balloons that can kill their cows, such as one recently pulled out of a field at a farm in Canfield.
“The cows, if it lands in the pasture the cows can eat them… it could either get lodged in their esophagus cause them to choke and die or if it doesn’t get lodged in there it can go to their stomach. The problem with a cow stomach is it’s four-chambered, and one chamber is like a honeycomb. That’s where everything goes through it and of course a balloon would just seal that off,” said Matthews Cattle Company manager Chad Bailey.
If a balloon lands in a hay field and farmers don’t catch them, the balloon can get ground up and fed to a cow that way, which can be just as damaging.
“I’ve picked up as many as 25 to 30 here in a year, which is just crazy to me,” Bailey said.
There are several states, including Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee that have banned balloon releases. But until they get traction in a law in Ohio, CARBOhio is working to reach people and suggesting alternatives to balloons.
“Planting trees and flowers, you could even throw wildflower sees as a release of something,” Robb said.
To learn more about CARBOhio and their mission, check out their Facebook page.