MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – South Florida communities are taking action and speaking up about the dangers to our environment, as people continue releasing balloons as part of celebrations to honor their loved ones.
In May of 2022, a video of a yacht crew popping balloons and throwing them into the water went viral and prompted a petition, calling on all Miami-Dade County officials to ban balloons and confetti in coastal waters.
“We want to do whatever we can, whenever, however, to really safeguard and steward our environment,” said Mayor Dana Goldman, City of Sunny Isles Beach.
Goldman said a city ordinance passed unanimously and went into effect in February. The ordinance notes, along with the threat to the environment and wildlife, helium-filled balloons are filled with a non-renewable resource. One that should be conserved.
State law says you cannot release more than 10 balloons in a 24-hour period anywhere.
Sunny Isles’ ordinance bans intentional balloon releases, regardless of the number of balloons.
“This is kind of my pet peeve. We’re not saying do not ever buy a balloon. It’s just don’t release it into the air, and don’t harm our coastline, our beaches, and our waterways,” said Goldman.
Environmental activist Andrew Otaza has removed more than 22,000 pounds of trash from South Florida’s waterways in the past five years, balloons included.
“They just don’t really understand what those balloons do to the environment when they come back down. Sea turtles will eat them, or birds will get wrapped up in the actual balloon ribbon. I’m hoping as more people learn about this problem, that there’ll be a greater effort among the constituents to either ban them, or at the very least, control them,” said Otaza.
The City of Hollywood has had a similar balloon release ban in place since 2020. Local 10′s Layron Livingston checked to see if the petition in Miami-Dade County had gained any traction and is still waiting to hear back.
The City of Sunny Isles will fine violators $100 for their first violation.