Balloon Pollution in the Great Lakes

June 18, 2019

This spring saw an uptick in awareness of the problem of plastics in our lakes, including the fact that thousands of pounds of balloon remnants end up in the water and on the beach. “Balloon pollution” is a result as balloons take years to decompose and pose risks to birds and other animals.

The Detroit Free Press highlighted the issue in its story 18,000 pieces of balloon waste were found in Great Lakes: Why it’s a danger. A shorter version of the story also ran on the website of WDIV Detroit.  

Both stories focus on and use results from a balloon pollution survey by University of Michigan master’s student Lara O’Brien. Anyone who finds balloon debris on the lakes’ waters and beaches can add to O’Brien’s survey.

While not all balloons are plastic, they are part of the larger pollution problem in the Great Lakes and take a long time to degrade. There are a lot of things we can do to keep balloons out of the lakes. You can use alternatives to balloon releases and decorations and you can help us spread the word by sharing links to the stories with friends and neighbors.

But ultimately, we need a more comprehensive solution to the ever-growing plastic pollution problem in the Great Lakes. Sign up for email and learn how you can become part of the solution.