Dear readers: A number of you have written me letters about the dangers of releasing balloons, and I thank you for this awareness.
I have denounced this terrible practice in the past, but in a recent reply to a letter, I did not warn against releasing balloons, and I apologize for that because I was so focused on the tribute .
However, I print three excellent letters that explain why this is a practice that should be avoided at all costs.
Dear Anne: Although I am sensitive to the desire of the family in “Paying Tribute”, I want to point out that balloons released in memory of a loved one (or for ANY other reason, for that matter) can be harmful to the environment (throwing rubbish!) and especially to wild animals, which may try to eat them or which may get tangled in the attached ropes.
Intentional balloon releases are illegal in at least five states, including California, and countless smaller jurisdictions in the United States for these same reasons.
It might have been more appropriate to plant a tree to celebrate the life of the deceased or to make a memorial donation to charity.
I read your column and appreciate your advice, but this one really asked for advice, not your full agreement.
— Reader from Maryland
Dear Anne: “Paying Tribute” honored her late husband by releasing balloons. However, such an act pollutes the environment and kills wild animals that get tangled in the ropes or ingest the deflated materials, materials that remain forever in our environment because they are not biodegradable.
These balloons get stuck in trees, clog our waterways and leave litter strewn across our environment. This is no way to honor the memory of a loved one.
We must be respectful of all life on this planet and honor all life through our benevolent actions to keep our planet alive.
– Honor all life
Dear Anne: I just read in your column about the release of balloons to commemorate the death of a loved one. It is important to educate readers on how extremely dangerous this practice is for animals and the environment.
For example, foil and Mylar balloons can get tangled in power lines, start fires and cause power outages. Animals may be attracted to the bright colors of deflated balloons, ingest them and the strings and suffer injury or death.
Please suggest other activities for group commemorations, such as planting a tree or blowing bubbles. We need to do things differently and model better behavior for children.
— Worried Kansas
• • •
Dear Anne: I am writing in response to ‘Angry Neighbor’ who is upset about a campaign sign in his neighbor’s yard. Some states have a time limit that a political sign can remain posted. The neighbor could be in violation of a law or ordinance. “Angry” could pursue this further.
— Helpful neighbor
Dear helpful: Thank you for your letter.
• • •
— A native Californian, Annie Lane writes her advice columns to Dear Annie from her home outside New York, where she lives with her husband, two children and two dogs. His latest anthology, How can I forgive my cheating partner?features favorite chronicles on marriage, infidelity, communication, and reconciliation, and is available in paperback and eBook form. Send your questions Dear Annie to [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.