Time to pop helium balloon use


To the Editor:

When I moved here in third grade, I was nervous. Sure, I visited here before, but I never actually lived here. So maybe I didn’t have the guts to try something new, but you know what? Sometimes trying something new is just the thing you need to really see what matters. So I ask you, what on this Island matters?

Now, you probably have many answers, and I don’t blame you, this Island is amazing. Here, I’ll give you one answer: our beaches. Our beautiful beaches are Island treasures. The first time I walked on these beaches, I was amazed by how beautiful they were. If we want them to stay that way, we must maintain them, just as we do our houses and families. Unfortunately, beaches too are prone to litter. When we release helium balloons, their remains land on our beaches, and in our oceans. It’s no better than just littering. Did I mention balloons are dangerous to animals? If a bird, turtle, or even your pet dog makes contact with balloon waste, they can choke on it, and die of suffocation. Sounds pretty disturbing, right?

Luckily, we are trying to stop this. I am part of an organization called Safe Sea MV, which was started by West Tisbury science students who want to pass a law that will end the intentional release of helium or other lighter-than-air balloons outdoors on Martha’s Vineyard. We want your help.

You live on Martha’s Vineyard. I live on Martha’s Vineyard. We all live on Martha’s Vineyard, and whether we like it or not, we share this 26-mile-wide rock. Our houses, jobs, and schools are all on this Island. So help us maintain our unique Island, and join us. If you are a registered voter for the town of Aquinnah, West Tisbury, Tisbury, or Oak Bluffs, all you have to do is go to the next town meeting and vote to approve our balloon-release bylaw. Thank you on behalf of wildlife everywhere.

Sam Fetters, Safe Sea MV
West Tisbury


  1. I know they’re not mutually exclusive, but I bet for every balloon at sea there are 1,000 nip bottles on the Island. They’re the worst little problem (worse than plastic bags) and they allow for people to easily commit OUI.
    Maybe we could prioritize our anti-trash efforts?

    • Wash— I would bet that there are very few people who throw the nip bottles out– but they do it all the time..
      I would think if you parked cars with dash cams on them in high volume areas ( about 1/2 mile from most liquor stores) you would pick up some incidents of this pretty quickly..

  2. Nip bottles are the sad blight of the island. Too many people purchase them thinking if they get caught drunk driving at least there will not be any physical evidence of their drinking alcohol. After you finish drinking them, they are just thrown out the window. A sad byproduct of our crumbling moral values. I thought that with all the tougher drunk driving laws enacted we would not see people doing this anymore. Alas, for some people habits are hard to break. Maybe it’s time for the police to monitor the liquor stores more closely to stop this….. Just sayin’

  3. I saw a horse eat the ribbon string of a Mylar balloon one time. As she grazed close to the balloon in her pasture she swallowed the end of the string. When she picked up her head the balloon chased her and kept chasing her no matter how fast she ran away from it.
    Balloons are horrible and so are nip bottles. Let’s ban both.

  4. you have to be environmentally brain dead to think releasing helium balloons is a good idea.
    It seems to me that this is littering, clear and simple. The police should fine anyone doing this.. Existing laws apply..

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