September 26, 2019

Worcester County Commissioners

1 W. Market Street, Room 1103

Snow Hill, MD 21863

Dear Commissioners,

On behalf of the Coastal Association of REALTORS®, I write to support the efforts of the Ocean City Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation to prohibit intentional balloon releases in Worcester 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 Commissioners to support the Surfrider Foundation in 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 Worcester County from harmful balloon litter by passing legislation that prohibits balloon releases.

Thank you for your consideration.


Bernie Flax

2018-19 President

Coastal Association of REALTORS®