The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Case Against Mylar Balloons

I have spent the month of October on the shores of Lake Michigan near the lovely town of South Haven, Michigan. It has been a wonderful time to reconnect with my favorite place while preparing for my next 1000-mile hike.

Every day, I have hiked a couple of miles in one direction, then returned to my cottage retracing my steps. And every day as I returned, I picked up trash along the shoreline.

Day after day I have picked up plastic bottles, aluminum cans and collapsed juice pouches.

The big surprise in lakeshore trash is the number of mylar balloons I have found. These festive inflatables take FOREVER to degrade. Some, like the one to the left, has all of the color worn off by wind and waves, but it is still intact. These three (below) were tied together and washed up together.

This photo is ONE DAY'S gathering of trash.

Sure, there is the expected plastic and aluminum...

and there were FIVE mylar balloons just this one day.

Oh no...

Et tu, SpongeBob?

Et tu?


  1. Thanks for writing this. I grew up with the Native American ads about littering. It may have been politically incorrect but it had an impact on me. Kids today have the "reduse reuse recycle" but the message NOT TO LITTER is not there. There is trash everywhere on school grounds, highways, beaches etc. I sure wish we could get that public service announcements going again that could encourage clean up and keep clean America. Maybe Michigan would be a great place to start.

  2. I walk the beaches north of Holland 3 times a week at various locations and always come back with a handful of Mylar. Where are these balloons coming from? Across the lake? Are they going out from these shores and coming back in? If we had some locations we could perhaps write the local press or notify the local shops.

  3. We now live on Lake Michigan not far from Claybanks township Park. We walk the beach often and I am amazed by the number of Mylar balloons and the strings attached to them. I was wondering if there was any proposed action to stop allowing people to release the balloons.

    1. I haven't heard of any action to stop the release of these balloons. Public awareness may help a bit.