2021 ESI guest post: Balloons and the environment

This is a guest blog post from Brenda Vang, an Environmental Stewardship Institute fellow this summer. Brenda drew a cautionary tale to show the impact stray balloons can have on wildlife. (Note: Opinions expressed in ESI projects are those of the program participant and do not necessarily represent those of FMR.)

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For my final project, I used digital drawing because drawing is my best way to express how I feel. My intention was to draw how balloons threaten the environment. See the whole project here.

My drawings are "cute" to make the project look less scary and family-friendly so young kids don't have to look at the effects.

Why I chose this project

Though balloons look harmless, there are a few articles that show balloons suffocate animals. The majority of the people in the world don’t know and still continue to buy balloons every day.

Once a helium balloon is released, it will travel many miles and land where animals "find" food for survival. And when the balloon lands flat on the ground, birds, turtles and other animals might think the balloon is food. Swallowing rubber leads to suffocation for animals too.

I thought if I drew about balloons endangering the environment, that might get people to actually see the impact of balloons.

What I hope you take away

I'm not sure why people like to buy balloons to just release them into the air. There’s no solid number I could find about how many balloons are released in a year. It’s weird how those who care about being animal friendly might still be buying and releasing balloons.

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What's the Environmental Stewardship Institute?

FMR's Environmental Stewardship Institute (ESI) fosters a diverse next generation of environmental leaders through an immersive program of local river issues and professional development that supports an interdisciplinary exploration of the environmental field.

FMR created ESI in 2019 to address the gap between environmental education and a career path in the environmental field. While many high schools offer green teams or eco clubs, many young people don't have the opportunity to explore what a career in the environmental field can look like. As an environmental organization, FMR wants to use our resources to help address that gap, in turn growing a stronger, more equitable future for the environmental movement.

ESI provides a paid job experience and foundational learning to a group of students, our ESI fellows, curious about environmental career paths. Upon completing the program, fellows are more prepared for continued schooling in environmental subjects and have work experience to lean on for future job opportunities across a variety of disciplines in the environmental field.

Check out other projects from 2021 ESI fellows.

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