On any given day in the summer on South Fork beaches, which are some of the most beautiful in the world, you will likely happen upon litter, and it’s even more likely that the litter will be plastic. It is also common to find deflated balloons, the remnants of a celebratory event that ultimately can have devastating consequences on marine life when discarded into the environment.
The East Hampton Town Trustees this week joined a number of environmental groups — led by the Eastern Long Island chapter of the Surfrider Foundation — in passing a resolution calling for a ban on the intentional release of balloons in the town. It’s a campaign seeking to change a prohibition in county law that allows an individual to release as many as 25 balloons, intentionally, into the atmosphere once a day without penalty. The county’s prohibition, as currently worded, aims to prevent more than that number of balloons from being released, which doesn’t provide much solace.
Balloons are toxic to marine life — the statistics are clear. Fortunately, it appears the trustees and environmental groups behind this rallying call have aid in Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming and New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. The reality is we need to be more responsible in how we manage balloons and other forms of plastic and waste and need laws that will protect our environment, our Earth and, on the East End, our economy as well.