BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Balloon releases in some communities are a sign of grief, but others say they leave an environmental impact. One new ordinance was introduced at the metro council meeting, which could ban them.
Last year, more than 130 homicides happened in East Baton Rouge meaning more ballon releases than you can count.
“It is a spiritual goodbye. It is a piece of love that is released saying that ‘Hey, we miss you,'” explained Laramie Griffin, founder of EVOLVE Louisiana.
Griffin said in minority communities balloon releases often give closure to loved ones. But Councilwoman Laurie Adams said it’s litter in the sky. That’s why she has created a new ordinance that would basically ban the intentional release of 10 or more balloons.
“If you do a balloon release, that’s wonderful but pick the balloons up. So, animals aren’t going to be harmed,” stated Jennifer Richard, founder of Keep Tiger Town Beautiful.
LSU professor Mark Benfield agreed, “These things are entangling marine life and birds and other organisms.”
Benfield stated when you release a balloon it can land more than 300 miles away. However, some believe it’s not a problem the metro council should be focusing on.
“We’ve picked up over 2,400 bags of litter. And in all of that pick-up and clean-up, I’ve seen one balloon,” said Marie Constantine with Louisiana Stormwater Coalition.
Everyone agrees that litter is an issue, but some believe it’s not enough to warrant a ban on something that helps families in East Baton Rouge Parish.
“Balloons aren’t the number one object that we find on beach cleanups. You know, they’re not even in the top ten, but they are one of the myriads of different objects that we do. find on our coastlines and in our environment. So it’s a small step,” claimed Benfield. Constantine followed, “People are putting up these balloons and they’re hurting. And I think we need we have to recognize the humanity of the situation.”
If the ordinance passes, the penalties are a $100 fine for the first offense and will increase to $250 dollars after that.