The number of balloons and balloon pieces found on beaches in Florida has nearly tripled. Balloons are a hazard because when they're released into the sky they travel thousands of miles until landing. Then, animals mistake them for food, but the balloons cannot be digested. The undigested materials block the esophagus and the animal is unable to obtain nutrients, causing the animal to slowly starve. Or the animal gets entangled in an attached string, slowly strangling the animal.

Pick an alternative. People release balloons for many reasons. Some might release balloons to raise awareness about something they care about, or maybe they release balloons after the death of a family member or friend as a feeling of letting go or closure in a calming way, but killing innocent animals is not exactly calming.

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Some alternatives: Light candles, spin pinwheels, plant a memorial garden or tree, sponsor a park bench. Or blow bubbles: They float away just like balloons but are not harmful.

With so many alternatives, why continue to release balloons? We can make a difference; we can save these animals. Pick up balloons and balloon pieces on the beach, and together we can help save these animals.