You know what? Lots of people think it's all cutesy to let off balloons. But I consider it littering. You are spreading garbage all over the place, and it seriously can't be healthy for animals to get all entangled in the strings or rubber. Can't we find something a little more nature-friendly to celebrate?
Then I googled the subject and found a really helpful site with these replacement ideas (they also have some awful examples of what balloons can do to animals):
Plant a tree
Create a wildlife garden that will attract butterflies and birds
Blow bubbles (I don't necessarily agree with this one. Soap can also be bad.)
DROP balloons (non-helium filled) from a tall building. Watch people have fun kicking and playing with the balloons. Then, pop them and dispose of correctly.
Release balloons INSIDE a church, gym or ballroom.
Memorial service -- Give everyone a balloon and a sewing pin, and tell them to make a wish for their loved one. On the count of three -- everyone bursts their balloons, sending wishes to heaven.
Cancer-free celebrations -- Give everyone a balloon, a pin and a marking pen. Tell them to write on the balloon the number of years they have been cancer-free. On the count of three -- everyone bursts their balloons. Messages on small pieces of paper can be inserted into each balloon with an inspirational message.
Outdoor Sporting events -- use bands, lights, banners, singers, crowd give-a-ways (towels, noise makers, etc.) to build excitement, but don't release balloons!
Donate books to a local library, food to a local food bank, or pet food to a local animal shelter to celebrate your group's acheivement or to honor a loved one.
And my own idea:
Distribute addressed post cards (with stamps) to random mail boxes and see what comes back! You could write, "Soandso just graduated!" or "Soandso and Soandso2 just got married!" so that the resulting message will be appropriate for the celebration.Yeah. So let's do something about it.