Thousands of Balloon Waste Pieces Being Found in Great Lakes

It’s pretty common to see balloons at birthday parties and festivals, but they’re hurting our Great Lakes.

“We all live in a watershed so everything that happens in that watershed it’s going to eventually end up in our lakes and rivers,” said Caroline Keson, Water Resource Specialist with the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council

You might be miles away from one of the Great Lakes, or they might be right in your backyard, but what you do makes a difference.

A new survey sponsored by the environmental nonprofit Alliance for the Great Lakes found more than 18,000 balloons or balloon pieces along shorelines of the Great Lakes from 2016 and 2017.

“Balloons or any sort of trash is harmful to wildlife because they can eat it and it can it trapped in their digestive system, some birds and fish can actually die from,” Keson said.

Groups like Friends of the Boyne River work to clean up local bodies of water after big events like the Fourth of July and Boyne City’s annual Boyne River Water Balloon Fight.

Debris, like balloons, that ends up on the Boyne River eventually leads to Lake Michigan.

Keson suggests finding alternatives.

“If you’re gonna use balloons definitely clean up after yourself or chose something different maybe a water gun fight get out some sprinklers use some hoses,” Keson said.

“Don’t release balloons into the air because they’re gonna go somewhere,” Keson said. “They may not end up at your house or my house but they could end up in another state or in a lake.”

Overall, she says we need to start thinking long term.

“Whatever you’re doing think about how long of an effect it’s going to have on the environment,” Keson said.