Balloon Litter Becomes Art

An affiliate of Keep America Beautiful shows how teamwork in Virginia turns marine litter into art

More than 11,000 littered balloons and ribbons were collected by researchers as part of Clean Virginia Waterway’s five-year study on remote beaches in Virginia. A public art project was created to raise awareness about the perils of marine debris, with the focus on balloons. People often don’t realize that balloons and their ribbons rank in the top three most deadly forms of marine debris.

A welding instructor and high school seniors constructed the frames of a turtle and a butterfly. Students, parents, and volunteers met at a local art gallery to sort the littered balloons by colors, and fill the metal sculpture frames. The beautiful butterfly and sea turtle sculptures have been on display for public enjoyment and education.

“Balloon-released litter is so preventable,” said Mike Baum, executive director of Keep Virginia Beautiful. “People just need to stop and think of other ways to celebrate without releasing balloons into the air.”