Do you remember the 2007 class of fourth-graders at Quincy Elementary School in Zeeland? The forty-two passionate, hope-filled individuals who launched the “Don’t Let It Fly or the Great Lakes Will Cry” campaign to eliminate balloon litter? The fearless students who convinced two high school principals to cancel an order for 450 balloons slated for high school graduation ceremonies?
One of the boys told the class if we really wanted to clean up Lake Michigan beaches, we needed to get Chicago involved in the campaign.
“Everyone knows the winds are out of the southwest,” he said. “If we don’t get Chicago to quit releasing balloons, we’ll never have clean beaches!”
He was right. Twelve years later, I am still picking up balloons!
Five states have banned the mass release of balloons. They are Connecticut, Virginia, Florida, Tennessee, and California. None are Great Lakes states. A number of cities have also banned the practice of releasing large numbers of balloons. To my knowledge, none are in the Great Lakes region.
It’s time. Why not start with Chicago, the city upwind of the longest freshwater shoreline in the world?
I planted the seed on Thursday. With a little nurturing, hopefully it will grow. You can help. Write a letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune asking for a city-wide ban on the mass release of balloons. We can find better ways to celebrate, to honor the dead, to make a statement.
Send a copy to your own city newspaper, your own mayor—asking for a ban in your community. Mayors talk. Maybe, with enough nudging, we can get a Great Lakes state added to the list of states outlawing mass balloon releases. Maybe, we can even get all eight states!
We owe it to the 2007 class of fourth-graders to try.
Sample letter for the Chicago Tribune email@example.com and your own mayor, governor, and local newspaper. (Be sure to include your name, city, state.)
Letter to the Editor,
I’d like to ask the city of Chicago to help clean up Lake Michigan’s shoreline, the longest freshwater shoreline in the world, by banning the mass release of balloons. If Connecticut, Virginia, Florida, Tennessee, California, and the Clemson Tigers can do it, why not Chicago?
Author and Beach Walker
2/9/2019 07:59:44 am
It's a simple, straightforward intervention. Let's make it happen.
2/9/2019 11:04:51 am
Has it really been a dozen years, Mary? My goodness, you have been weeding and hoeing and planting for a long time, and I know you've really just begun. The difference is that your garden is much, much larger today. There are so many different seeds, so many rows to grow them in but I can't think of a more determined gardener!
Mary Ellen Miller
2/9/2019 11:48:31 am
Thanks for the suggestion, Mary. It's on my "to do" list for this week-end.
2/10/2019 07:54:35 am
I’d love to see Chicago ban those balloons! Thanks for planting the seed.
2/19/2019 07:57:58 pm
Mary, keep up the exception job of fighting for our waterways. We also see balloons along the New Jersey shore and the inland lakes that we sail on. It is so frustrating. Banning release of balloons should be a global initiative. As a property owner in Pennsylvania and also in Michigan, I am writing our state representatives and asking that they bring awareness to this issue and ban balloon releases. Kudos to you for making this issue public. It proves one person CAN make a difference. You are that person!
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
from your local bookstore
or online retailer
and on this site.
The Ideal Gift
Tiny Treasures, a collection of wildflower photographs and poetic prose, available by clicking on the Purchase Products button below.
The 2nd Edition of Tiny Treasures is designed for use on PCs, tablets, and phones and is available at online stores. To learn more, click on the Ibook/Ebook button below: