Up, Up But Never Away - Balloon Litter in NYS

Balloon LItterDEC field staff often encounter littered balloons, even when working in NY’s most remote areas. In fact, some DEC Forestry staff who perform forest surveys find littered balloons almost daily, and DEC staff in the Bureau of Wildlife in Region 4 pickup and collect balloons they find while doing field work throughout the nine counties that makeup the region. On our beaches, DEC’s Marine Resources staff are learning more about balloon litter in NY’s coastal areas through coastal balloon litter surveys conducted through a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris grant.

Littered foil or latex balloons and their strings can be found on the ground, stuck in trees, and in water bodies including trout streams, lakes, coastal areas, and other sensitive ecosystems. Finding waste balloons in any wild place doesn’t just take away from the experience of being in these environments - when balloons end up as litter, they can also become a hazard to fish and wildlife or can become microplastic pollution. We can all do our part to make sure our decorations meant to show kindness do not end up harming the environment or our communities. Be part of the solution:

  • If you celebrate with balloons, make sure they are tied down tight, and avoid balloon releases. Many balloons end up in the environment from being released at celebrations and memorials.
  • Dispose of balloons properly in the trash. Balloons do not belong in the recycling bin.
  • Consider alternatives to balloons such as bubbles, bells, paper or fabric garlands, reusable banners, or planting a native tree, shrub, or flowers in remembrance of a loved one.

Want to learn more about balloon litter and other types of plastic pollution? Visit or check out EPA’s Trash Free Waters page. Have you seen littered balloons in the environment? Send us your pictures and stories about where you have found littered balloons to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Photo taken by Steven Heerkens, DEC Wildlife Biologist, while doing field work in Herkimer County



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