Town of Southampton considering helium balloon ban

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A balloon ban could be on its way to Long Island, with the Town of Southampton prepared to float the idea to its residents.

Southampton has already passed a ban on plastic straws and Styrofoam containers -- next up could be helium balloons. The town in considering a proposal that would prohibit the sale of helium balloons at places like party stores and supermarkets.

The idea is to cut down on balloons ending up on the ground, at beaches and in the water where wildlife can eat them and choke to death.

"I know there are merchants that sell these helium balloons. They're popular for children's parties, anniversaries, birthdays. It's going to have an economic impact. But maybe there are alternatives, other ways to celebrate without harming the environment," says Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman.

New York Marine Rescue Center in Riverhead treat lots of sea turtles, seals and other animals, many of which have been injured by balloons or plastic.

"A balloon or a bag or anything like that in the water can look like a food source. So they mistake it for something they'd normally eat and then ingest it," says Nicole Valenti, of the New York Marine Rescue Center.

Many party stores would clearly take a financial hit, but Gwen Waddington, longtime owner of the Sag Harbor toy store The Wharf Shop, says she doesn't oppose the ban.

"A balloon is there for a party -- just one day -- and then it's back in the waste stream. That doesn't really make sense when we're trying to eliminate plastic in our waste stream and our environment," says Waddington.

Town officials say they'll conduct a poll among town residents to see how they feel about the proposal before acting on it. Similar legislation has passed in other states, but it's believed Southampton would be the first in New York to pass a ban on helium balloons.

 

 

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