Girl Scouts Help Pass Law To Make Releasing Balloons Illegal
When they learned how toxic balloons can be for animals, they stepped up to do something about it.
Girl Scouts aren't just selling cookies these days. Arizona Cactus Pine Council Troop 3835 in Tempe, AZ is working to make a big change in their town to protect the environment.
Along with a few state representatives, the troop is pushing for a bill to make it illegal to release balloons into the air. The scouts says it's an environmental hazard, and that it's harming the area's wildlife.
The troop was inspired to start the project after learning about plastic pollution at school.
“Girl Scouts are trying to make the world a better place, so once we found out that if you release balloons it can hurt birds and other wildlife, we decided to make a law about it. Because there is no law," Amber Chen, one of the scouts, told ABC15-TV .
While the legislation would prohibit people from releasing balloons outside, “into the atmosphere for any reason, including as a part of an event, promotional activity or product advertisement," there are a few exceptions.
- A person who accidentally releases fewer than five balloons into the atmosphere.
- A person who operates a hot air balloon that is recovered after launch.
- Balloons that are used for a scientific or meteorological project or by or on behalf of a government-sponsored project.
- Balloons that are released indoors and recovered after release.
The mass release of balloons is already illegal in several cities and states, including Connecticut, Florida and Virginia and others are ready to get on board.
Charles Rolsky, a PhD student at ASU researching plastic pollution, says that balloons contribute to an already overwhelming plastic waste problem.
"It has impacted virtually every ecosystem that it has been found in. And research shows that balloons specifically are the most fatal type of plastic for birds," Rolsky said.
Animals often mistake the balloons for food, and once they eat them they can cause internal injury, starvation or death. The string from the balloons is also a problem and cause serious injury and suffocation.
The troop has been working with Representative Mitzi Epstein, who's planning to introduce the bill into Arizona House of Representatives later this week.
Epstein says if the bill becomes law, rather than giving people a fine, cities would instead require they do community service to pick up litter.
The scout troop has been holding events and making signs to create awareness about the issue. When asked why the bill is so important, Chen summed it up pretty well.
“Animals are awesome and we shouldn't live in a world without animals."
Since the story came out, troops from all over the country have been reaching out to Troop 3835 to find out how they can do something similar in their communities. It just goes to show that you're never too young to make the world a better place!
If you live in an area that does not have a balloon ban in place yet and you're interested in starting one, you can begin by reaching out to your state legislators. If you don't know who your state reps are, you can do a search and find out . Here are a few tips on how to craft a letter to congress stating your concerns .
Let's #StartSomethingGood together.