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Mid-Michigan high schooler pushing to stop balloon releases

The environmental problem of balloon debris has been in the spotlight in recent months thanks to the efforts of a Michigan high schooler.
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 6:04 PM EDT
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Mich. (WNEM)- The environmental problem of balloon debris has been in the spotlight in recent months thanks to the efforts of a Michigan high schooler.

State Senator Mallory McMorrow talked about this bill she sponsored in 2021 that would fine anyone who releases balloons.

“It would add the act of intentional balloon release to our existing littering laws,” McMorrow said. “Balloons don’t break down, that fish end up eating them, and then we end up eating that. So, it’s part of education as well, just to put something into law, so people understand that it’s really dangerous.”

The issue came to a head on social media after people commented about a balloon release Saturday to remember 20-year-old Alicia Jackson Skaggs. She was shot last Tuesday in Flint Township and died from her injuries.

Many people on the TV5 Facebook page raised concerns about the balloon release and the impact on the environment.

McMorrow’s bill was inspired by high school student Nisha Singhi. The sophomore from Bloomfield Hills said she has studied this issue for two years.

“Balloon debris is the number one killer for seas birds,” Singhi said.

Singhi realizes a lot of situations involved with balloon releases can be very sad, but she wants people to think of other ways to the memory of a loved one.

“I think it’s important to take into account the harm that they can cause and adapt those traditions. While still you know honoring the life of someone who passed away. There are many ways to do that, planting trees, that’s one of them,” Singhi said.

McMorrow said her bill is in committee and she’s not sure when, or if state lawmakers will vote on the proposed legislation. She says other states have passed similar measures and Michigan should do the same.

“Things go up, they’ve got to come down. So, what can we do to mitigate that to make sure that animals aren’t eating them and then we are eating that? And it’s just leading to horrible health effects that we can avoid,” McMorrow said.