Words by Tess Becker
Marine trash is nothing new. There have been headlines for years about turtles eating plastic straws and the garbage patch in the middle of the Pacific. One California town, famous for its beaches, is trying to cut back on how much trash ends up in the ocean.
Laguna Beach, California, is known for its surf culture, massive waves, and beautiful beaches. It has announced a resolution to ban the sale and use of balloons citing wildfire risks and the buildup of marine trash.
What comes under the ban?
Beginning in 2024, balloons of all types will not be permitted to be used on public property or at city events, with violators facing fines of up to $500. Residential homes will be exempt.
This is a growing trend around the US with states like Maryland and Virginia banning planned balloon releases in 2021, Hawaii doing the same in 2022, and now other states like New York and Florida considering similar things.
Balloons are particularly deadly for sea creatures because of the latex they’re made of which, according to a study, is 32 times more deadly to seabirds than normal hard plastic.
“This is because latex balloons are made from a soft, malleable material that can easily conform to a bird’s stomach cavity or digestive tract,” says Lara O’Brien, a geospatial analyst at Noaa’s Office for Coastal Management, “causing obstruction, starvation, and death.”
You may not be able to help as much as government mandates but every little bit of trash you clean off the beach is trash that doesn’t end up in the ocean. Consider a beach cleanup.