Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is reminding residents and visitors of ways to enjoy outdoor celebrations this summer in an environmentally friendly manner.

DEEP offers the following tips on how to have an environmentally-friendly backyard barbeque, graduation ceremony, wedding, or when enjoying the outdoors with family and friends.

While balloons are a popular celebrating tribute, do not release helium balloons into the air.

Under Connecticut General Statutes, it is illegal for any person or any group to intentionally release 10 or more helium balloons per day.

In Connecticut, a summer breeze can transport balloons released in inland areas all the way to Long Island Sound.  Once in the ocean, the deflated balloons – just like plastic bags and other floating plastic garbage – look like food (mainly jellyfish) to some sea creatures.  When marine animals, particularly sea turtles, eat the floating plastic, their digestive systems become blocked and the animals die.

Balloon ribbons cause problems of their own when they are picked up by birds, such as osprey, as nesting material.  The ribbons in nests can get wound around the birds or nestlings, causing death by strangulation or starvation.

The “Balloons Blow... Don’t Let Them Go” website ( is one resource for learning more about the dangers of helium balloons, environmentally friendly alternatives, and ways to spread the word about balloons.

Here are more suggestions for environmentally-friendly celebrations:

Use reusable plates, cups and cutlery if possible.

If you use disposable plates or napkins, look for those made from recycled content.

Avoid polystyrene foam products.

"Compostable" utensils and plates are only “greener” if you have made arrangements for composting them.

For light snacks, try to serve "finger food" or food that can be served with minimal plates and utensils.

Use cloth or reusable tablecloths.  These can be rented along with tables and other event supplies so that you don’t have to buy a lot of items unnecessarily.

Serve drinks from pitchers or bottles rather than individual drink bottles.

Serve locally grown foods whenever possible.  It is possible to find many different fruits and vegetables, cheeses, breads, dips, beers and wines. Check CT Dept. of Agriculture’s website for the Connecticut Grown program.

Provide separate containers for trash and recycling and have them clearly marked.  Make sure trash containers are paired with recycling containers.  For information on event recycling, go to

For favors or centerpieces, choose edible or plantable items, which are less likely to end up in the trash.  Buy local flowers or plants from farmers markets or farm stands, or, for real freshness, find a “pick your own” location.  Check CT Dept. of Agriculture’s website, for a listing.