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Safe Seas Balloon Release Bylaw Q&A

Prepared by Safe Sea M.V., a group of West Tisbury School students and teacher Zoe Turcotte

Do mass balloon releases still happen?

Yes. They are often released with good intentions for celebrations such as weddings, baby showers, sports games, special events, or in memory of loved ones.

Is this about banning single balloons released or mass balloon releases?

Every balloon released can be a determent to the environment. Our mission is to educate others and raise awareness. If the bylaw allowed for a person to legally release one balloon outdoors intentionally, then a wedding party of 100 people for instance could have each wedding guest release a balloon, resulting in 100 balloons being released legally. We thought that this would defeat the purpose of this bylaw.

What if my child accidentally releases a balloon?

Oops! Try to be more careful next time. This bylaw only covers balloons released on purpose and not by accident. We hope that adults will educate their children who hold the balloons about the dangers of releasing them outdoors.

How are police officers going to enforce this?

We recognize the importance of this bylaw is less about enforcement and more about the opportunity to educate people who may be thinking about doing a mass balloon release. We hope that the person or organization will choose not to do a mass balloon release knowing that there is a bylaw against it. We specifically made it a one time fine per offense in order to eliminate the need for police to research prior offenses or count balloons.

Are there alternatives to releasing balloons for a celebration, such as biodegradable balloons?

Yes! Some alternatives are throwing petals, flowers, biodegradable confetti, drumming, blowing bubbles, lighting candles, streamers, or releasing balloons indoors. However, biodegradable balloons are not the answer, because they take years to break down.

Can I still buy and sell helium balloons on island?
Yes. We would like to thank the island balloon sellers who have actively supported the proper disposal of balloons before this bylaw was presented.