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Upstream from the Downstream Problem of Mylar Balloons

On Monday we posted a positive story on the rescue of Mylar balloons overboard by the Passport 37 Sula. It was heartwarming to see the good work done by sailors Carolyn Rosner and Mike Hay. On Wednesday we went into Safeway to rediscover what they and the world are up against.

Helium Balloons
The good thing is they last forever. No spoilage. The bad thing is they last forever.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
Safeway Helium Balloons
This may be the source of Carolyn and Mike’s day rescuing 16 balloons from the Santa Barbara Channel.
© 2022 John

The world can’t live without plastic, but there are certainly some plastics we can live without. Single-use plastic water bottles and Mylar balloons are two of them. They both are probably very profitable to Safeway and contribute to shareholder value. Clearly, Mylar balloons don’t take up valuable shelf space, and they never rot or go bad like so many other things in a grocery store.

We can see the appeal of quick, festive solutions to our desire to have fun, but we can also see that Mylar balloons are not a safe way for the planet to have us commemorate our various human celebrations. As Carolyn and Mike said, “Friends don’t let friends buy Mylar balloons.”


  1. Laraine Salmon 2 years ago

    If you ask the Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands abut the damage Mylar balloons do to Marine Mammals who ingest them you would never even consider purchasing one. Plus the sort of ribbon attached to them tangles around necks and flippers doing even more damage. So sad!

  2. Bob Adams 2 years ago

    Not to mention that the helium is a non-renewable resource that has many more important uses (engineering, science, medicine, etc) than to make balloons rise.

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Pacific Coast Yachting Association Award
Dick Loomis, aka Mr. Fun, has won a posthumous award from the Pacific Coast Yachting Association for his amazing ability to bring people together to have fun on and around the water.