Annie Lane: When paying tribute, choose an environmentally friendly practice

Published 4:21 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Dear Annie: I am writing in response to “Angry Neighbor,” published on Aug. 28. “Angry” is upset about a campaign sign in his neighbor’s yard. Some states have a time limit for how long a political sign can remain posted. The neighbor might be in violation of a law or ordinance. “Angry” could pursue this further.

Thank you.

— Helpful Neighbor

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Dear Helpful: Thank you for your letter.

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Dear Readers: A number of you wrote letters to me about the dangers of releasing balloons, and I thank you for that awareness. I have spoken out against this terrible practice in the past, but in a recent reply to a letter, I failed to caution against releasing balloons, and I apologize for that because I was so focused on the tribute. However, I am printing three excellent letters that explain why this is a practice that should be avoided at all costs.

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Dear Annie: While I am sympathetic to the desire of the family in “Paying Tribute,” I would like to point out that balloons released in memory of a loved one (or for ANY other reason, for that matter) can be harmful to the environment (littering!) and especially to wildlife, who can try to eat them or who can become entangled in attached strings.

Intentional balloon releases are illegal in at least five states and in innumerable smaller jurisdictions in the United States for these very reasons. Perhaps planting a tree in celebration of the departed person’s life, or making a memorial donation to a charity, would have been more appropriate.

I read your column daily and appreciate your advice, but this one really called for guidance, not your total agreement.

— Maryland Reader

Dear Annie: “Paying Tribute” honored her late husband by releasing balloons. However, such an act pollutes the environment and kills wildlife who get tangled in the strings or who ingest the deflated materials, materials that remain in our environment forever as they are not biodegradable. These balloons become stuck in trees, clog our waterways and leave trash strewn throughout our environment. This is no way to honor a loved one’s memory. We must be respectful of all life on this planet and honor all life through our caring actions to preserve our living planet.

— Honor All Life

Dear Annie: I just read in today’s column about a balloon release to commemorate the death of a loved one. It is important to educate readers about how this practice is extremely dangerous to animals and the environment. For example, foil and Mylar balloons can get tangled up in power lines, spark fires and cause power outages. Animals can be attracted to bright colors of deflated balloons, ingest them as well as strings, and suffer injury or death.

Please suggest other activities for group commemorations, such as planting a tree or blowing bubbles. We need to do things differently and model better behavior for children. More info at

— Concerned From Kansas

“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to