Balloons blow, why let them go?

In my time afield, I have literally walked thousands of miles in the woods. It never ceases to amaze me how far into nearly untouched wilderness you can find garbage. In many cases I have been so deep into uninhabited areas, that you expect to see nothing, yet out pops a Mylar balloon.

Nearly every outdoorperson I know has found at least a few balloons in the woods. People like myself that spend most of their free time outdoors, tend to find many a year. We all have complained amongst ourselves, but social media has helped bring the problem mainstream. Those that ask “why” are not likely outdoorspeople, or are those that have been sucked into the customary practice of polluting the world in someone’s memory.

I have been fortunate to have friends that stand up against the ridiculous practice of sending garbage airborne. Everyone I know is against the practice, but there are those that don't see the byproduct of such an idiotic tradition. The fact is, if you don't see the environmental impact, it's easier to ignore its existence. I have been planning on writing a column on the topic, and had an experience this week that forced me to do so.

I have been dating my middle school sweetheart for over a year and a half now. We separated as kids and reconnected after over 20 years. She was living in Ohio, so a lot of trips back and forth have been made. Over the winter I stayed there for two months. I spent most of my time while she was at work walking the metro parks looking for deer sheds. I hiked well over 100 miles and recovered 11 sheds. Sheds are hard to find, but if you look hard enough, they can be picked up. In my travels I picked up several bags of garbage, which were mostly composed of water, soda, and energy drink bottles and cans, with the occasional candy or snack wrapper and potato chip bag mixed in. I expect to see this kind of trash on the side of the road, but it burns me to see it in the woods. Even worse was the 15 Mylar balloons that I found. Seriously how is it possible to have found more flying garbage than I found sheds? The deer live in the woods and this area protects them, so they are heavy in numbers in comparison to here. You would not expect to find more balloons unless the problem is bigger than people have reported.

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