MIDDLETOWN, R.I. - Fresh on the heels of the plastic bag ban in Newport, a new Change.org petition has been started to stop people from releasing balloons into the air.
David McLaughlin, the Executive Director and Founder of Clean Ocean Access in Middletown started the petition hoping to make releasing balloons illegal on Aquidneck Island.
McLaughlin says, “We thought that with the positive energy we have right now on eliminating single use plastic bags, now is the right time to start a call to action.”
He says in the last four years, they've found almost 2,200 balloons along the coastline, and that has an impact on the environment as well as the economy.
McLaughlin adds, “So, it just makes sense that we're the city by the sea, and we need to take care of the sea.”
Once they receive 1,000 signatures, they'll ask the towns and cities on the island to prohibit the release of balloons. He says it's more about awareness than enforcement.
McLaughlin: “We really looked at this as sending a strong message to the community. It's really difficult to catch someone in the act of releasing a balloon.”
Rob Macmillan, the Co-founder of 11th Hour Racing, says for the past ten years, he's seen balloons offshore every time he sails.
Macmillan says, “It's incredibly depressing. You'll be sailing along and you'll just see plastic balloons floating everywhere. And, you've got to imagine that the sea life that encounters them are just ingesting them and dying, or it's getting into our own food supply.”