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First Plastic Straws, Now Balloons Could Be Banned Next

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/ AP)---  Now that plastic straws may be headed for extinction, could Americans' love of balloons be deflated?

Over the past few months a wave of major companies and even a few states said no more to plastic straws. Now environmentalists are targeting balloons.

In fact, Clemson University put an end to its tradition of releasing 10,000 balloons before football games in efforts to be more eco-friendly. Others are following in their lead. A town in Rhode Island outright banned the sale of all balloons earlier this year, citing the harm to marine life.

"There are all kinds of alternatives to balloons, a lot of ways to express yourself," says Kenneth Lacoste, first warden of New Shoreham, Rhode Island, who cites posters, piñatas and decorated paper.

The favorite party decoration however is not among the top 10 kinds of debris found in coastal cleanups.

Chelsea Rochman, an assistant professor of ecology at the University of Toronto, says efforts to bring attention to specific products shouldn't be dismissed as too minor.

"If we said that about everything, we wouldn't get anything done," Rochman says.

Others argue that balloons shouldn't be restricted, but rather handled properly. That means never releasing them into the air, and ensuring the strings have a weight tied to them so the balloons don't accidentally float away.

"We don't want to say don't use them at all. We're saying just don't release them," says Laura McKay of the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program.

The state of California banned the release of balloons, but for reasons due to power outages.

Lacoste says that he believes other towns will ban balloons after more people become aware of the environmental impact they have.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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