September 27, 2019

Wicomico County Council

Government Office Building, Room 301

125 North Division Street

Salisbury, MD 21801

Dear Council Members,

On behalf of the Coastal Association of REALTORS®, I write to support the legislation submitted by County Executive Bob Culver to ban intentional balloon releases in Wicomico County.

Recently, our association launched the REALTORS® Reuse Recycle initiative as means to provide resources to our members and to the public so they may be environmental stewards of the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland. The current focus of our initiative is the “Real Estate Boycotts Balloons” campaign, which encourages our members to use balloon alternatives when conducting open house events or other marketing efforts. The association has also stopped using balloons and helium at all of our events.

Now, we ask the Council to support this very important request to stop commemorative and celebratory balloons releases once and for all. According to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s annual International Coastal Cleanup report, from 2008 to 2016, almost 300,000 balloons were found on U.S. beaches. Latex balloons are not natural or biodegradable, despite what their packaging may say. Animals often mistake balloons as food. Birds, marine life, and other animals eat balloons, and the latex blocks their digestive system, causing a very painful and slow death. Ribbons and strings become entanglement hazards for animals, who become unable to move or feed. Additionally, filling balloons with helium is wasteful. There is a limited supply of helium and it should be conserved for where it is critically needed. Finally, mylar or foil balloons can cause power outages and spark fires when they come in contact with electric power equipment.

Our industry relies heavily on the success of local businesses, as well as the area’s appeal to tourists, high quality of life for residents, and the health of our natural assets. We must protect our natural resources, upon which so many of us depend to support our way of life and our livelihood. Please help protect beautiful Wicomico County from harmful balloon litter by passing legislation that prohibits balloon releases.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Bernie Flax

2018-19 President

Coastal Association of REALTORS®

cc County Executive Bob Culver