Fireworks

This week’s topic was suggested by my sister Lauren…fireworks! Since Diwali was celebrated last week, and Bonfire Night is coming up next week in the UK – not to mention New Year and any other celebrations that generally involve fireworks – I thought this week would be a good time to investigate it.

As a family, we normally do a few small fireworks and sparklers on Bonfire Night, and I tend to watch fireworks on TV at New Year, but of course even small things have an impact on the environment.

I was really interested to find out what fireworks are actually made of. I knew they contained gunpowder, but that was about it. Professing my ignorance entirely, I was actually quite surprised to learn that they actually contain chemicals such as cadmium, barium and dioxins. If you want to know more about these chemicals and which colours they produce in fireworks, have a look at this brilliant little graphic and the accompanying article.

Just as pesticides used on fields can pollute water supplies and eventually affect us higher up in the food chain, the elements in fireworks can be spread great distances, affecting water, soil, plants, animals, and, ultimately, us. Whilst they may be very small quantities, the fact remains that they still have an effect and they are still being used. But I think that knowing about the impact that fireworks can have and making differences to how you celebrate with fireworks can still have make a difference!

Challenging why we celebrate using fireworks in the first place is a great first step. Bonfire Night is a tradition in the UK that has been developed on and enlarged upon until it is almost unrecognisable. We don’t have to stick to traditions that we don’t feel a connection to, but it’s also fun to celebrate even if the original meaning has been somewhat lost! 😉

Watching larger organised fireworks events could be a great alternative to home fireworks, because although these displays are obviously bigger, at least they are put on for much larger numbers of people than just your family or a few friends in your back garden. You also might want to consider how you’d get to a fireworks event, if you want to focus on the emissions you are creating.

Edible sparklers - from this website.

Edible sparklers – click on the photo to view the original recipe.

Some other great ideas – not necessarily specific to Bonfire Night – include:

  • Have a bonfire instead. Bonfires are fun to cook over, dance around and watch, as well as keeping you warm! (Please stick to burning wood though and don’t chuck any rubbish on there!)
  • Watch a fireworks display on TV instead of having your own.
  • Watch other people’s fireworks out the window or on the street. I enjoyed some whilst I was waiting for the tube home the other day.
  • See a laser display instead (thank you to the earlier referenced article for this idea). These are just as colourful and beautiful as fireworks. Going for this option will depend on whether there are any laser displays in your area, and how you feel about the power that laser displays use (although, on balance, I think they’re better than fireworks displays).
  • Celebrate with a party or street party.
  • Do some themed baking – just a quick search on Pinterest found edible sparklers which look fantastic (finger biscuits dipped in sprinkles, see photo) and fairy cakes iced with colourful fireworks.
  • Think up a fun new tradition. Wherever I am on New Year’s Eve, we always end up playing board games during the evening as we wait to celebrate a new year.

If you’re not ready for this yet, maybe you could try cutting down on the number of fireworks (or sparklers) you use to celebrate. Try buying a smaller box or saving half the box for next year instead!

Do you celebrate with fireworks? Or maybe you’ve thought of alternatives? I would love to hear your thoughts! 🙂

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13 thoughts on “Fireworks

  1. I never really considered the environmental impact of fireworks. We usually go to see a large, town-wide display or, if wimping-out, watch them on television.

    • I hadn’t either really until my sister mentioned it. I tend to be quite happy to watch them on TV – all the excitement with none of the crowds or cold weather 😉

    • Thank you! I know, I loved them too, there are so many great ideas on Pinterest! Families have lots of their own traditions for Christmas and birthdays, so why not for other celebrations? 🙂

  2. I think I’d sort of known there were lots of chemicals in fireworks but had chosen to ignore this – thank you for the informative post. We tend to go our village fireworks and bonfire display, although my little ones don’t always like the loud noises. I wonder if sparklers have many chemicals in them as these are a quieter more child-friendly alternative and bring back great childhood memories.

    • No problem, glad it was helpful. I focused on fireworks and didn’t think so much about sparklers, but I think that sparklers also contain heavy metals and they won’t be biodegradable after you’ve used them either. It’s such a shame, since I always used to enjoy using them when I was growing up too.

  3. Interesting post 🙂 We used to go to organised displays when our boys were younger. I think from an environmental point of view it would be good if organised displays could morph into computer generated sound and light displays which can be pretty spectacular too, especially if they’re powered by green energy.

    • Thank you 🙂 Yes, I think that would be just as awe-inspiring as fireworks, and much less dangerous. I’m sure computer generated displays would be possible, maybe one day in the future… 😉

      • I remember seeing a few months ago that a computer artist working in sound and light had put something like this together for some kind of celebration but unfortunately I couldn’t put my hand to the link 🙂 I’m sure it will happen like this more in the future 🙂

  4. I love a good bonfire and don’t get to enjoy them nearly often enough. On the 4th of July I enjoy watching the public displays and do not light my own. Actually, I live in a relatively dry area and fireworks can be a fire hazard so I have never felt comfortable lighting them myself. Great tips! 🙂

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