Polymer Poop

From pretty things to effluent waste

Followers of my blog know I feel communion with the shore. When I’m there, I’m home.

DSC_8125.jpgThe ocean’s edge is a return to innocence. I see with a puppy’s eyes: each bird a wonder, each wave a mystery — the roar of white water, an ovation to sea life, to shore life.



It’s easy to mistake the marvel of birds as mundane. But when I watch shorebirds dance with waves in the same salt air I breathe, it takes my breath away.


The air is to birds as sand is to me. On our own turf, we roam planet Earth together.


As I watch, my worries become weightless.

DSC_1289.jpgBrain ballasts of politics, climate change, ISIS, Verizon Customer Service, lose their grip. They are all set adrift, like scudding clouds in a field of blue.


As I return to peace I’m back to the innocence of which I was born.


There is a difference in me. My forehead flattens, my mind smiles, triggered by surrender to what is.

You, who are mindful sand strollers, know what I mean. You feel it too. Despite your troubles, you find presence. You know full immersion in life on Earth.

DSC_2279 a.jpg

That’s why I suspect most of you, like me, are…

…pissed at the crap on the beach.

Photo Dodo.com.jpg

A Smiley Face and a tangle of death. (Photo Dodo.com)

Often, a party’s pretty things become effluent waste, fouling our shores as polymer poop.

Ribbons strangle shorebirds.

Whales become bloated with plastics, dolphins with shredded balloons:https://tinyurl.com/whale-dolphins

dolphin with balloon.jpg

Ft. Meyers FL Last month, a baby dolphin, later euthanized, was found to have plastic bags and a balloon in its stomach. (Fl. Fish and Wildlife)

Maybe we can rise to defend the defenseless, the innocents of the sea and shore.

Some humble ideas:

Let kids pop balloons at a party’s end; each pop, the sound of another bird saved.

Deposits on balloons. Maybe two bucks for the big ones? Five balloons for a party make the return for a ten-buck deposit worthwhile. Shore-walks for some might mean more than gathering shells.

Create a litter bag out of balloon litter. Slit it with a shell shard and fill it with straws, bottles, and lids. Then dump the commercial crap into the trash.

Local governments are at least moving. New York State is considering a ban on balloon release, but the details are laughable: You can’t release more than 25 balloons in 24 hrs.


Should we also limit oil-change sludge that we can dump into the sea to just one quart in 24 hours?


Litter, no matter how “pretty.” Photo, Getty Images

Birds and sea life eat rubber and plastic. Releasing any balloons into the air is air litter, which becomes shore or sea litter. Even if the release is fun.

But we are making progress. Our ignorance was more evident in 1986 when Cleveland let loose 1.5 million balloons to the cheers of throngs:


Locally, the date nears to stop the strangling of sand and sea life.

Balloons w turtle .jpg

Balloons, ribbons, and loggerhead turtle hatchling. Photo NOAA

Long Beach, my hometown, is among the leaders in shore-life protection. It is now illegal to intentionally release sky-litter of any balloon. See: https://tinyurl.com/balln-ban

The adjacent Town of Hempstead, NY is considering following our Long Beach model.

On Nov 12, 2019, there will be a public hearing where you can let them hear you:

Contact or attend:

Town Hall of Hempstead, One Washington Street, Hempstead, NY 516-489-5000:https://hempsteadny.gov/supervisor

Any City Council Member:https://hempsteadny.gov/council-members

So, rise like those damned balloons, all you lovers of nature, strollers of shores, conservers of wildlife. Expel your air in the form of your voice to the Town of Hempstead. (Update, On Nov. 12, 2019, the Town of Hempstead did pass the bill prohibiting intentional balloon release by a vote of 5-0 ) Great news but…

three terns DSC_8965.jpg

You followers in other states and distant shores, join us. Let’s come together to stop this insane pollution.

Let’s enjoy the majesty of nature, life at the ocean’s edge: the gulls, the terns, the dolphins, the whales.

Whale breaching DSC_3215.jpgAll, under the only balloon we need at the shore.

beauty sun.jpg

Be well,

2 replies »

  1. Lee, Great article. Maybe a required warning on packaging – Dangerous to sea life. Dispose of properly. And a fine to stores that sell balloons without that warning on packaging.


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