BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It is a common tradition to celebrate life or death with the releasing of balloons, but scientists are saying these balloon releases are drastically impacting our environment.
"Most environmental problems are not huge, cataclysmic, earth ending problems," Assistant Professor of Ecology at University of Buffalo Dr. Nick Henshue said. "But it's death by a thousand paper cuts. Each little thing...that makes it out, all of those start to matter when they accumulate."
Elizabeth Cute, the community engagement manager at Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, says thousands of balloon scraps are collected each year throughout the Great Lakes. And, these scraps are harming the local fish and seabirds.
In fact, according to a study by Scientific Reports, balloons are 32 times more likely to kill seabirds than hard plastics.
But, it is not just sea animals and birds that are ingesting these plastic debris, it is also insects and invertebrates.
"I’ve actually find quite a bit of micro plastic in the digestive track of earth worms. So it’s pretty wild," Dr. Henshue said.
There are some alternatives to balloon releases though, for example you can plant a flower or a tree. Or try throwing rose petals or bird seeds instead.