Prevent Balloon Litter Campaign Launched – find alternatives to balloon releases for celebrations

Oct 28, 2021


On October 4th the Prevent Balloon Litter Campaign was launched. The National Aquarium, Virginia Aquarium and New York Aquarium have placed posters, created by the MACO marine debris work group in their facilities to help spread the message of balloon release impacts and alternative ways to celebrate an event or honor a loved one lost. Posters, decals, and social media posts will occur throughout the months of October and November to promote this campaign.

The Mid-Atlantic Committee on the Ocean’s Marine Debris Work Group is made up of representatives from the Mid-Atlantic states, federal employees, non-profit organizations, aquariums, and academia. Members from every entity coordinated to address the importance of reducing intentional balloon releases. “Over a dozen partners contributed to this campaign. We were very fortunate to have the sage advice of Steve Raabe at OpinionWorks and Doug McKenzie-Mohr, the “father of community-based social marketing,” to help guide this initiative. Having stakeholders, especially the aquariums, involved in message testing and material development early on in the process has helped ensure that the campaign materials will actually inspire people not to release balloons,” Laura McKay, Marine Debris Work Group Co-Chair.

An important aspect of the campaign was to create effective content that resonated with the Mid-Atlantic region to foster behavior change. “During interviews conducted in each state, we found that many people who release balloons didn’t realize the impacts on the environment and animals. They were extremely saddened and wanted to know what they could do instead.  Because of this finding, we focused our campaign on those devastating impacts, but also provided meaningful alternatives to celebrate without causing harm,” said Steve Raabe, OpinionWorks.

The Marine Debris Work Group plans to collect data over the two month campaign, review results and use the information to better the campaign for a full launch in Spring 2022.

Sample Campaign Materials:

An alternative – tree planting

Impact – Puffin and balloon litter 

Visit to view all campaign materials.

If you would like to participate in the campaign for the spring launch in 2022 please contact:

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