DEAR ABBY: I was surprised when it was announced in my church newsletter recently that an event was to conclude with the release of hundreds of balloons into the sky. It took some doing to explain that what goes into the sky eventually comes back down to earth.
I'm not an active environmentalist, but I have been involved with my daughters' Girl Scout troops for 10 years. We teach the girls to recycle, conserve and take care of Mother Earth.
Balloons released into the air often travel many miles before returning to earth, and their effect on wildlife can be deadly. Animals eat the balloons, which cause intestinal blockage and eventual starvation. They also get tangled up in the strings and, unable to free themselves, die a slow and painful death because they can't reach food or water. Also, balloons are not biodegradable. Those colored bits of shriveled plastic you see littering the beaches are going to be there for a long time, if they don't get caught in some fish's throat first.
I read in my local newspaper that some states -- New York, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, New Jersey Kentucky, Virginia and California -- have enacted laws specifically to curb or eliminate the release of balloons.
Abby, if you print my letter, you will be educating many readers who do not realize the potential harm they are causing when they release those pretty balloons. It would be so much better to keep them, and deliver them to a nursing home instead. -- FRIEND OF THE ENVIRONMENT, BURNSVILLE, MINN.
DEAR FRIEND: I'm delighted to help you spread the word to my many readers who are committed to preserving our environment. We all should be.