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Monday, August 25, 2008
Posted by Jeremiah McNichols
If you've recently been tempted to release a balloon with your child as a way of commemorating a loved one's passing or to offer "well wishes" for someone in need of them, we'd like to take a minute to encourage you to seek a different way to express your feelings. The alternatives may be less telegenic than releasing one, ten, or one hundred balloons into the air, but helium balloons - even latex ones - can pose a serious risk to marine wildlife, despite manufacturers' claims to the contrary.
For a rundown on the hazards balloons can pose in the environment, check out this EarthTalk Q&A, or this information provided by the UK Rivers Network.
To us, there doesn't really seem to be any more of a qualitative difference between individual and mass balloon releases than there is between illegal waste-dumping by industry and littering by private citizens.
Yes, there is a difference of scale. But our personal actions add up, and they also send a message. In the case of a recent balloon-release meme on blogs we've been reading, the release of individual balloons is passing on a message to children that makes us cringe.
It's an otherwise admirable gesture of solidarity and hope that is hard to speak out against, and we don't feel comfortable naming names.
So we're looking at the flip side of this issue, and are working on a post about environmentally-conscious ways to send messages of hope for those in need or to commemorate lost loved ones. We'll be publishing it on our new blog the Tranquil Parent, which launches in early September.
As we collect our own thoughts, we'd like to hear from you. What are your favorite forms of remembrance or gestures of hope that don't take a toll on the environment? Are there any practices you once followed that you have replaced with more environmentally-friendly alternatives,? Any that make you feel a bit guilty but for which you haven't yet found a suitable substitute?
We'd like to keep this conversation focused on alternatives, rather than waste time or hurt feelings by passing judgment. Any ideas you can share in the comments here, if we choose to highlight them for readers in our upcoming post, will be presented in that same spirit.
Photo by Brendan Adkins, shared via Flickr.