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Reshaping how we view the act of kids letting balloons go

May 13 2011 | Kids, Plastics,

Anyone with kids has experienced this... your child is at a party, they are given a balloon... and they let it go. At first glance it seems like a completely harmless act.

Yet life is rarely as simple as it seems.

What goes up must come down. Balloons that are released into the air certainly go up, and eventually come back down to earth. When they finally make their way back to earth, animals find them and may try to eat them.

Animals can't digest plastic. It get's stuck in their systems causing health problems and as a result, millions of animals die every year. A group in South Texas, including our local chapter, is takling this issue head on.

What's fascinating to me is the cultural shift we're talking about here. We are literally talking about parents shifting their views regarding what's okay for their toddlers and children to do. Shifting culture is not easy and that's why I love this book.

The book to the left (full version available here on Google docs) was created by Rob Nixon, Surfrider maven from the South Texas chapter, and other local leaders. They created an educational tool FOR kids. I love that aspect as well. They didn't launch an awareness campaign aimed at parents (who, like many of us, have established our habits over decades). They went to the source and asked kids "would you want an animal to die because of that balloon?"

I spoke to a class of first graders a month ago and found myself asking this same question. Kids learn so quickly because they don't have those decades of habits to overcome. I know that most of the kids in that class went home that night and shared their new perspective with their parents... they "educated up."

Kudos to all those connected with this effort in Texas. Simple, straightforward, approachable, meaningful... excellent.

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