A ban on balloons? It could happen in one Western Washington city

Bainbridge Island councilmember Michael Scott is proposing a ban on any balloons containing plastic, metal, or mylar. (Photo: KOMO News)

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash. (KOMO) - A city councilmember on Bainbridge Island in Washington wants to ban balloons, and is introducing the proposal at Tuesday night's council meeting.

"It's been something I've been thinking about for quite a while," said councilmember Michael Scott.

Scott wants to ban the sale and use of balloons on Bainbridge Island that are not 100 percent biodegradable.

The idea is getting mixed reaction from people who live on the island.

"I just hardly know what to say but it's going to ruin so many birthdays," said Bainbridge Island resident Susan Jackson.

Scott said he's been seeing an increasing number of balloons littered across the island which can be harmful to animals and wildlife.

"This is something that is easy, relatively easy, to take care of," said Scott. "I struggle with this because we all have fond memories of balloons, but does that entitle us to endanger our environment or living creatures who are part of the environment? I don't think so."

At least three businesses on the island sell balloons, including Calico Toy Shoppe, Rite-Aid and Safeway.

A worker at Safeway said balloons make up about 15 percent of their floral sales, so a ban would be a small blow to business.

"There are lots of environmental issues to think about and the city council needs to think about things like parking because there isn't any," said Jackson. "(Councilmembers) need to stop diddling, look at the bigger problems that Bainbridge has."

The proposed ordinance, which would include a ban on any balloons containing plastic, metal, or mylar, is drawing similar reaction from others on the island.

"We do have more important things than balloons. (I) agree that it is an issue, but the development on the island is phenomenal," said resident Joan Collins.

Scott said he is also drafting an update to the city's disposable food container ordinance. He wants to ban utensils and straws that are not biodegradable, similar to what Seattle is proposing.

"This is something that we can deal with locally and we can do our part. We can't solve it worldwide but we can do our part and add to the momentum," said Scott.

If approved, the ordinance would also ban balloon releases at special events or celebrations. It would not apply to hot air balloons or balloons used in research projects.

A vote on the proposal was moved to the council's September 12 meeting.

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