9 replies on “Letter to the editor: Stop releasing balloons in memory of someone loved”

  1. Thanks very much for running this letter! I’ve been opposed to balloon releases for years, once I learned how harmful the spent balloons are when they fall to Earth. That’s in addition to the fact that they’re then litter; also that they waste helium, which is most valuable in industry, medicine, and science. People should not use up helium in these heartfelt balloon releases. People found other ways to express their emotions at these moments, for thousands of years before people discovered helium and how to collect it.
    I’ve never found a spent helium balloon, but urge people who do find them to not only pick them up to take to proper trash disposal – but to document when and where they found it, and if it had caused any visible harm to any creature, and report it. Somehow, there should be established a single place where reports of these spent balloon finds are collected, and a way to educate folks about the harmfulness of balloon releases, hoping to persuade everyone to stop doing it.

  2. Agreed. I so wish people didn’t somehow find balloon release meaningful. Because it’s so potentially harmful to the environment.

  3. The harm to wildlife and the environment has been known for decades. To lose a friend or loved one is deeply painful but another way of commemorating the departed could be a contribution to a social service agency, school or church/synagogue would be of greater positive value.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly and I thank you for articulating this so thoughtfully at such a sad and sensitive time.

  5. Absolutely agree. Thank you for writing this for publication, it is not easy to say in the wake of an untimely death, but this is when community members might be most receptive to a permanent, living, and growing memorial to a life lost.

  6. Recognizing the desire to see something fly away to honor a departed person, still I must agree with the suggestion to find ways that are less environmentally harmful — and less potentially dangerous. Evanston is near or directly under several low-level aircraft flight patterns to O’Hare, Chicago Executive (ne Palwaukee) in Wheeling, and local hospitals. Big jet engines might ingest a sparrow or even a few balloons with little or no harm, but just one balloon could impede airflow into a small plane or helicopter engine enough to cause a crash. Small-craft pilots learn to dodge, but that distraction also can be dangerous, and doesn’t always work. The waterways don’t need more plastic, the limited global supply of helium could be better used (keep a birthday party balloon until it sags, for example), and we don’t need to risk a “Miracle on the Hudson” event.

  7. Sigrid Pilgrim –
    This was exactly my thought. The balloons were a loving gesture. As an Evanston mother, I grieve along with the Dennison family but we need to find equally satisfying ways to mark these horrific losses that do not at the same time jeopardize our environment. I find balloon pieces on the beach every time I go and it pains me because I know they are used to honor or celebrate but I think it’s ultimately misguided. We need to make earth friendly alternatives second nature in these times of grief and loss. There is a balloon source in Evanston that has an environmentally friendly alternative. Their things are very beautiful. It’s called Balloon Baby Party Hire: https://www.balloon-baby.com/

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