We must remember to thank Guy Fawkes one day for his failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. Hundreds of years later, our annual celebration of Bonfire Night is a way of remembering that momentous night, bringing festivity to our communities and colour to our skies. Beautiful though they may be, sadly Bonfire Night is bad news for the environment.
Fireworks produce harmful polluting toxins and lingering particles. Such toxins cause extensive air pollution in a very short space of time, leaving metal particles, chemicals and smoke in the air for hours. The compounds used to create dazzling colours can contain heavy metals, which contribute to an already-existing industrial contamination of our water and soil. If you want to choose more eco-friendly fireworks, go for white as this avoids the harmful chemicals associated with the coloured ones.
They also create non-recyclable waste as plastics are often used in fireworks, which means when they explode in the air, plastics along with other particles are released and end up back on the ground where they will never degrade. This also means they become a threat to wildlife if accidentally ingested.
If you must have a bonfire, burn all-natural materials and avoid burning things that contain plastic or rubber
Bonfires may be comforting and warming for humans, but they can be detrimental to hibernating animals. Animals such as hedgehogs and water voles which are experiencing a rapid decline in numbers as it is, use log piles and leaves to create a habitat, which means they can often get caught up in bonfires without realising before it’s too late. Not only that, the smoke released by fires impacts local air quality and the health of people in the vicinity. If you must have a bonfire, burn all-natural materials and avoid burning things that contain plastic or rubber. Better still, visit a communal bonfire at a fireworks display rather than having smaller individual ones, as the pollution is less impactful.
We must take action now in order to decrease the impact that it has on our already-suffering environment
A fairly new tradition on Bonfire Night is the use of sky lanterns. These too are very pretty, as they float up and away through the sky. But they also pose a significant risk to wildlife when they eventually drop back to the ground. Avoid using sky lanterns wherever possible. Bonfire Night can still be enjoyed and celebrated in the UK but we must take action now in order to decrease the impact that it has on our already-suffering environment.
It’s bonfire night! You look up to the sky and all you can see is dazzling displays of colour whizzing around, banging, crashing and mesmerising your town. It stops you thinking about the clocks that have just been turned back….. (not ANOTHER winter of dark nights and dreary coldness here in Newcastle?) It gives you a break from thinking about those uni deadlines that have been giving you anxiety for weeks. But most of all, it can bring you and your friends together to go and buy a toffee apple and sit on the grass together watching a firework display.
But is it worth it? Is the impact that it has on the environment really worth this second of satisfaction? Let’s face it, they only last a few minutes at most anyway?!
In a world where a climate emergency has been called, is our fascination with fireworks actually just an extremely selfish way of harming our environment even more? Here are the top three ways that fireworks our harming our environment.
The plastic that is left behind from the burnt out remains of fireworks can harm animals in the surrounding habit.
Firstly, the debris that is given off from firework displays largely impacts animals. The plastic that is left behind from the burnt out remains of fireworks can harm animals in the surrounding habit. If an animal eats the plastic remain, they can potentially die from it getting stuck in their throat. Also, the toxic chemicals left in the plastic debris can harm the animals if ingested.
Secondly, water supplies can be infiltrated with the chemicals that fireworks contain. Fireworks contain chemicals which include gunpowder, metal salts and oxidisers. Long after the firework has been lit do these substances linger in the atmosphere. Eventually, they will find their way into the local water supplies!
Fireworks introduce 42% more pollutants into the air than are on a normal day
Finally, the air pollution that they cause is staggering. With America doing a test on how much air pollution is cause in their country on Independence Day, they found that as a national average, fireworks introduce 42% more pollutants into the air than are on a normal day. This is a global crisis caused by fireworks!
So, if fireworks are bad for our animals, our water and the air then are they really worth it? Is it time we found a cleaner way to celebrate Bonfire Night?