Balloons Rise, Birds Fall

balloons calm clouds colorful
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on

Whenever I see a whole lot of balloons being released, somehow my first thought isn’t about the celebration they are marking. It is about all the birds, etc. they will injure and possibly kill. Those balloons eventually deflate and fall into the water. There, as brightly colored pieces of plastic, they attract the attention of seabirds and other creatures, who think they are prey, such as squid, etc.  If the seabirds eat enough plastic or mylar, they cannot digest it and they will eventually starve due to lack of nourishment.

Another way balloons can harm birds is if they have strings or ribbons attached. Sometimes the birds fly into the string and get tangled in it. They often use them for making their nests, and unwittingly pose choking or tangling hazards for their chicks. When such tangling occurs, it often stunts chicks’ proper growth.

We can prevent these results from happening by releasing trained doves, using decorative sparklers, or using balloons not filled with helium that will fall so that they can be collected before they do harm to wildlife.

Let’s keep the skies safe for birds and fun for us. 



The Last Straw?

gray and green turtle swimming on water
Photo by Pixabay on

When I am in a fast food restaurant, I get a soda of whatever size and I put a cap on it and a straw in it. When I’m through, I often throw the cup, cap and straw away without a second thought. It is amazing to me that I take such little things as being a usual part of at least my weekly, if not daily, life. For a while now, I have been taking the cups home with me to rinse and recycle. (Don’t get me started on how many recyclables I see in restaurant trash…)

Lately, I have started taking my own straws into restaurants, fast food and otherwise. Why? Well, it’s because I saw the video of the sea turtle with the straw being extracted from its nose. It was a gruesome sight complete with blood and a very unhappy animal wincing in pain.

The video is a testament to the literal pain felt by our planet and its other inhabitants when we almost mindlessly toss things away. Plastic bags, straws, bottles, silverware, tires, the list goes one. Almost anything found in a landfill eventually ventures into the lives of wildlife.

In some cases, it goes into waterways and eventually the ocean where seaturtles like the one in the video, and other sea life, have close encounters of the awful kind. There is even a huge whirlpool of sorts in the Pacific Ocean that just circulates lots of accumulated trash and plastic on the surface. Eventually, some of it sinks to the bottom to affect the life going on there as well.

I want to reduce this pain, hence the bringing my own straws into restaurants. But there is more I and others like me can do. For instance, there is the “Give a Sip” movement that will send you a reusable paper straw to use instead of the ubiquitous plastic ones destined for landfills, etc. Stainless steel reusable straws are also available from various organizations for the same purpose.

I feel like we need to be more active and purposeful in our acknowledgement of the effects of our actions on those around us, and by this I mean not just humankind. If something as simple as a changing my straw can help to bring about a somewhat better life for a fellow creature, then why not try it? As the saying goes, “no skin off my nose” and alot less off his.