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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100 Happy Days #3

Well, as you may have noticed from a lack of 100 Happy Days posts on my blog, unfortunately I stopped taking the time to think about the simple things that make me happy each day, let alone take photos of them!

But I have reminded myself how important it is to focus on the simple, often free, things in my life that make me happy, especially when things can get overwhelming. So here are some of my photos from this week!

I know the minimalist bloggers that I follow are great at focusing on simplicity and this really can help cut out things in your life that aren’t good for you or the environment .

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I wore this dress on Monday and it made me feel so summery and cheery! I was in two minds about keeping it before but I enjoyed wearing it and got compliments on it too, so it stays!

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I was waiting on a platform for a tube home, and it was really nice to just stand in the warm sun.

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I’m knitting a sock – I haven’t made much progress and it’s a little untidy (I’ve never knitted from the toe up before) but I feel like I’m gradually cracking it!

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A 100 Happy Days post wouldn’t be complete without a photo of a cat!

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I’m currently reading a book called The Gift (also known as The Naming) by Alison Croggon. It’s one of my favourites and I’m enjoying reading it again.

How do you incorporate this attitude towards simplicity in your own life?

100 Happy Days #1

I recently read on peonut’s blog about a challenge called 100 Happy Days. You can find the website about it here. Essentially you take a photo of something that makes you happy every day for 100 days. You can share your photos on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or keep them private. I decided that I’d like to share some of my photos on my blog every couple of weeks. For me, this challenge is about finding happiness in simple things, something I am trying to achieve throughout my going green journey. Here are a few of my photos from this week! Let me know if you’re doing this challenge (or anything similar) too; it would be great to see what makes you happy each day. IMG_1277

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I could make this challenge easy for myself and just take a photo of one or both of my cats every day – they always make me happy 🙂

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A lovely sunny blue sky out my window one day – seeing the sun is something that can really brighten up my mood.

I made these cute little Easter cards in an afternoon - I didn't have to go out and buy anything as I already had everything I needed in the house. They make me smile as I think they're cute and I love the patterned papers I used.

I made these cute little Easter cards in an afternoon – I didn’t have to go out and buy anything as I already had everything I needed in the house. I got inspiration from this pin I found on Pinterest; you can find it on its original website here.

This is a very blurry photo as it’s of my laptop screen. I took it when my blog reached 100 followers as this was something that I’d been aiming towards for a while.

Happy photo-taking and Happy Easter! 🙂

Umbrella

Well, it was raining here in London when I left the house this morning, and my umbrella closed itself twice just as I was walking down the road! So I thought maybe it’s time for a new one … but is it even possible to get an eco friendly umbrella?

It seems there definitely are some possibilities! Obviously the cheapest and greenest option – going without an umbrella entirely – isn’t really something that appeals! But umbrellas made from recycled products such as plastic bottles are available (if slightly pricey!) Here are some of the ideas I’ve come across so far; I hope they help you to find the ideal eco umbrella!

  • WWF Eco Umbrella, £29.95 – the canopy is apparently made of 100% recycled plastic bottlesWWF Eco Umbrella. And it has the bonus of supporting a good cause too!
  • Remarkable, an online eco shop, sells a variety of eco umbrells, ranging from £23 to £40, the more eco friendly the more expnsive of course, unfortunately. I would be most tempted by the 100% Recycled Blue Umbrella, as it also had a bamboo handle and shaft. But do I really want to spend £40 on an umbrella? Not really…
  • For something a bit weirder, how about this Eco Brolly?  (Although I haven’t worked out where to go on the website to actually buy it!) Basically it’s a foldable frame that you can attach an item – newspaper, plastic bag etc. – to as the canopy. Quirkiest idea I’ve found so far!

But what if you don’t want to buy a new umbrella? Although I’ve never tried it myself, I’ve found a good guide online on how to fix a broken umbrella. This is the best solution to both fixing your umbrella and avoiding having to buy a new one!

When I started this post, I was focused mainly on finding a new eco umbrella, but I think I might try and fix my old one before I spend the money on something new! What do you think? Have you tried any of these suggestions or something similar?

Have a green week!