Dear Readers: A number of you wrote letters to me about the dangers of releasing balloons, and I thank you for that awareness.
I have spoken out against this terrible practice in the past, but in a recent reply to a letter, I failed to caution against releasing balloons, and I apologize for that because I was so focused on the tribute.
However, I am printing three excellent letters that explain why this is a practice that should be avoided at all costs.
Dear Annie: While I am sympathetic to the desire of the family in “Paying Tribute,” I would like to point out that balloons released in memory of a loved one (or for ANY other reason, for that matter) can be harmful to the environment (littering!) and especially to wildlife, which can try to eat them or that can become entangled in attached strings.
Intentional balloon releases are illegal in at least five states, including California, and in innumerable smaller jurisdictions in the United States for these very reasons.
Perhaps planting a tree in celebration of the departed person’s life, or making a memorial donation to a charity, would have been more appropriate.
I read your column and appreciate your advice, but this one really called for guidance, not your total agreement.
— Maryland Reader
Dear Annie: “Paying Tribute” honored her late husband by releasing balloons. However, such an act pollutes the environment and kills wildlife that get tangled in the strings or that ingest the deflated materials, materials that remain in our environment forever as they are not biodegradable.
These balloons become stuck in trees, clog our waterways and leave trash strewn throughout our environment. This is no way to honor a loved one’s memory.
We must be respectful of all life on this planet and honor all life through our caring actions to preserve our living planet.
— Honor All Life
Dear Annie: I just read in your column about a balloon release to commemorate the death of a loved one. It is important to educate readers about how this practice is extremely dangerous to animals and the environment.
For example, foil and Mylar balloons can get tangled up in power lines, spark fires and cause power outages. Animals can be attracted to bright colors of deflated balloons, ingest them as well as strings, and suffer injury or death.
Please suggest other activities for group commemorations, such as planting a tree or blowing bubbles. We need to do things differently and model better behavior for children.
Click here for more information.
— Concerned From Kansas
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Dear Annie: I am writing in response to “Angry Neighbor,” who is upset about a campaign sign in his neighbor’s yard. Some states have a time limit for how long a political sign can remain posted. The neighbor might be in violation of a law or ordinance. “Angry” could pursue this further.
— Helpful Neighbor
Dear Helpful: Thank you for your letter.
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— A native Californian, Annie Lane writes her Dear Annie advice columns from her home outside New York City, where she lives with her husband, two kids and two dogs. Her latest anthology, How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?, features favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation, and is available as a paperback and e-book. Email your Dear Annie questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.