The Student News Site of WC Mepham High School

The Buccaneer

The Student News Site of WC Mepham High School

The Buccaneer

The Student News Site of WC Mepham High School

The Buccaneer

What goes up… must come down

Nicolette Crawson

Ever since I was a child, I heard the phrase what goes up must come down. Beginning at a dollar store, going to be used as decorations for a party, but after that…where do they go? You may see a tiny speck floating through the air, but one may not realize that eventually they land in the environment, becoming a danger to wildlife. These small, deflated, latex balloons get misidentified as food by animals such as turtles and birds. 

These tiny looking balloons will travel millions of miles, soon to reach deflation and end up in the water to travel even farther, or end up in trees, becoming attractive to birds and other species. 

During the COVID pandemic, volunteers would head down to Jones Beach to help pick up marine debris. What they didn’t realize was that balloons were also a rising problem. Cynthia Seibold took it upon herself to try and give back to the environment and make people aware of the harm balloons are causing.  According to Seibold, “Balloons go to three separate places, some are reused for environmental art projects. It’s a solid waste to energy solution that we use. We want to send our balloons to TerraCycle, where they will melt down the balloons into little plastic pellets. And then that gets recycled into industrial flooring, or industrial pallets or someday into maybe a balloon bin.” 

To help more people become aware of these issues, Seibold has started a local organization called the Balloon Mission, and she has reached out to many community partners such as the Long Island Children’s Museum.  

Partners such as the Children’s Museum and the North Merrick Library encourage the pop and drop of balloons into recycling bins specifically for the balloons. Being that the Long Island Children’s Museum is a popular birthday party spot, in each of their party rooms they keep a balloon bin. These bins were designed to be clear so children have the ability to look inside to see the different balloons. 

Because of Seibold’s actions, more and more people are aware of those consequences. Maybe that person hosting the birthday party will think twice before setting that balloon up in the air after the party. As a partner in the community, Seibold hosts a table at a multitude of events such as the Green Teens, the Long Island Children’s Museum STEAM Weekend and many, many more. She also makes a concerted effort to speak to schools around the local community, encouraging them to recycle rather than release.

Expanding farther than Long Island, The Balloon Mission has reached states such as New Jersey, South Carolina and California. Because of the connections made, more and more people are bringing both ideas and solutions to the table. 

Looking closer to home, the Bellmore Merrick Community has set up boxes in their schools to help support and raise awareness for this cause. Senior Ashley Felsberg has helped the district collect 5,932 pieces alone, helping the organization reach the 30,000 mark. Overall 31,875 balloons have been collected up until this point. With the work the Balloon Mission has done, the spread of awareness is on the rise. After all, what goes up… must come down.

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