Balloon Mission continues to set the bar ‘high’ in Merrick, Bellmore


Since Balloon Mission, a nonprofit environmental organization created by North Merrick resident Cynthia Seibold, launched in December 2022, its efforts to combat a relatively simple but nagging problem have taken off, so to speak.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Seibold, like many other people, spent a lot of time outdoors in Long Island’s parks and preserves and on its beaches. Among all the litter that built up in these places, one variety stood out: balloons.

Improperly disposing of both nylon and latex balloons can have devastating effects on the environment, Seibold explained. Balloons are a leading cause of pollution in the oceans, because they break down into microplastics and nanoplastics.

She founded Balloon Mission with the goal of collecting balloons before they were discarded on land and in the ocean, and also to educate society on why they can be so harmful.

In particular, Seibold has emphasized the dangers of “balloon releases,” in which people send hundreds of balloons into the sky for celebrations like birthdays and anniversaries.

The organization is not “anti-balloon,” Seibold emphasizes, but rather stresses the importance of using and recycling balloons responsibly.

Throughout 2023, she worked on building partnerships and affiliations with dozens of organizations, like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and ACDS.

Formerly the Association for Children with Down Syndrome, ACDS, which has facilities in North Merrick and Plainview, offers a wide range of services to people with disabilities.

Recently, the work Seibold has been doing extended a step further, to the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District.

At Wellington C. Mepham High School, senior Ashley Felsberg led a mission to collect used, discarded balloons.

As part of her community service efforts for the Science National Honor Society, Felsberg offered local florists and party planning businesses an option for safe balloon disposal. She also worked with school officials to get the word out to the community that there was a disposal site on the Mepham campus.

Over the course of two weeks earlier this year, Felsberg and the school community collected nearly a dozen bags of balloons — 3,090 in all, a record for Balloon Mission.

Since its inception, the nonprofit has collected over 31,000 balloons.

“The Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District has been empowering environmental stewardship with our students and community,” Seibold said. “Mepham has been leading the way in raising awareness about the unintended harm balloons have when they’re released into the sky.”

“Collecting and recycling balloons is important to keep the oceans clean and keep animals and the environment safe,” Felsberg said. “I enjoyed it.”

Collaborative efforts, that Balloon Mission has been a part of to help the environment extend beyond Balloon Mission’s work, Seibold said.

“I cannot believe what we have done in such a short time,” she said. “There’s so many environmental things — so many environmental problems that are out there — whether it’s straws, plastic bags.”

Balloon Mission will take part in several initiatives as Earth Day approaches and more spring-themed events take place over the next few months.

The organization is involved in beach cleanups run by the Town of Hempstead, as well as Earth Day events from New York City to Smith Point Beach in Mastic.

Seibold’s nonprofit has also worked with the Long Island Children’s Museum in East Garden City.

On March 10, young participants helped make Balloon Mission collection bags, so people can bring old balloons to the museum, where they will be properly discarded and recycled.

Schools in Oceanside, Freeport, Baldwin and Lindenhurst, and libraries in Long Beach and East Northport, have joined Balloon Mission’s efforts, serving as locations where balloons can be recycled.

The more people and groups that get involved, Seibold said, the more the community will learn about the potential dangers used balloons present to the environment.

“I’m grateful we can get the message out and hopefully get more people not to do balloon releases,” she said. “We have had phenomenal growth.”

Because Balloon Mission is a nonprofit, it depends on donations and environmental grants.

To donate, to learn more about upcoming events and workshops it is hosting, or to find a balloon recycling bin near you, visit