At The Corner Balloon Shoppe in Minneapolis, owner Kristin Traynor tries to remind her customers.

"We want people to be responsible. Don't release them into the environment," said Traynor.

That's a good reminder with the Alliance for the Great Lakes releasing data showing 18,000 balloons or balloon pieces were picked up
over a three year period along Great Lakes shorelines.

That's harmful to wildlife.

"Basically see them as potential food sources," said Tim Schaefer with Environment Minnesota.

He says it can be an issue along our lakes as well.

Volunteers with the Cannon River Watershed Partnership picked up 8,000 pounds of litter and plastic in their region last year. Some of that came from

"Stick to using them indoors and disposing of them properly when you're done with them," said Schaefer.

Litin's Party Value in Minneapolis also shared some ideas or alternatives for balloon releases:

-Release just a few latex balloons. Use cotton string instead of the plastic ribbon. Never release Mylar it does not biodegrade.
-Do a balloon drop with air filled balloons. These balloons could be filled with an uplifting message/scroll when popped (think fortune cookie)
-Have streamers on wands for a wedding sendoff
-Release bubbles (there is a MN company called Extreme Bubbles I recently found)
-Place floating flowers in a river/lake and watch them float away
-Give guests saplings to take home and plant or plant a tree together. Friends of The Parks,, Green World Project and Heifer International are good resources for this.