Fireworks and the Environment

Are fireworks bad for the environment?

29 Dec 2023

Fireworks have been a favourite part of celebrating New Year, big holidays, and important milestones for centuries. When the sky lights up, and amazing shapes and colours cover the dark sky, we feel grateful, present, and happy to witness something bright and shiny. But when the show is over, we are left with toxins, metals, and chemicals that have a detrimental impact on our environment.

This article will explain how fireworks work and why are they bad for the environment, and also present eco-friendly versions of fireworks. Instead of increasing air pollution, let us make some sustainable New Year resolutions that we will be proud of.

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How do fireworks work?

The modern science behind fireworks is similar to the one a thousand years ago when the first fireworks were started in China. The firework consists of a paper tube that contains gunpowder, stars, and a fuse. The stars are small pellets that determine the shape of a firework we will see in the sky.

To start a firework, we light the fuse, which triggers the gunpowder to unleash the stars, much like a rocket. The colourful sky, however, is not a result of nature-friendly ingredients. Quite the contrary, different colours are a result of heavy metal salts.

For example, strontium will produce red colour, aluminium white colour, copper will produce blue, barium green, rubidium purple, and so on. While the sight on the sky can take your breath away, the pollution can literally lead to respiratory difficulties. Because the same metals that create the colours will fall from the sky, right into the soil and water. And from there it will find its way to our food, and the water we drink.

They cause air pollution

We mentioned that metal salts and gunpowder create a colourful blast. But, when the ignition happens and oxygen enters the scene, we get smoke and different gasses as a byproduct. So, the air fills with nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide.

These gases pollute the air, and cause respiratory issues with people who have asthma, but also with people who don`t. Even healthy people can experience a lack of breath, vomiting, and other symptoms if they inhale air with a high concentration of these gases.

So next time you think that your kids will love fireworks, remember that they are full of heavy metals. Choose some of the eco-friendly gift ideas to celebrate an important occasion.

Remains of Fireworks

And water pollution as well

Another ingredient of fireworks are percholates, chemicals that are used in fireworks instead of potassium nitrate. The health effects of these chemicals have not even yet been investigated fully. However, research suggests that perchlorates can disrupt the work of the thyroid gland.

Fireworks are often set off over rivers and lakes. How many times have you stood on a bridge watching a fantastic show in the sky? The issue is that these hazardous chemicals, such as perchlorates, fall into the water directly. And this is not the right path to nurturing environmental awareness in children. We need to be better than this and preserve our environment in every possible way.

Unused fireworks become hazardous waste

If not stored and disposed of properly, there is a risk of environmental damage. When you want to throw away the fireworks that have not been used, the best way usually is to completely soak them in water. Then, you should wrap them in a plastic bag to prevent them from becoming dry again. The final step is to throw them in the garbage.

From there, they will end up in already crowded landfills. Always follow the manufacturer`s guidelines on proper disposal, as if not stored or disposed of properly, the fireworks can leak into the groundwater, endangering wildlife.

They cannot be recycled

Fireworks cannot be recycled, upcycled, or reused. Their sole purpose is to provide a short-term blast of heavy metals and toxins into the air. While the spectacle is truly an amazing sight, there are numerous ways in which we can celebrate the big events in our lives.

Remains of Fireworks in the Morning of New Year's Day

We should always try to use products that can be recycled. Living in harmony with nature is easier than ever, as the majority of everyday products have a healthier alternative. Instead of purchasing non-recyclable fireworks, buy recyclable gifts for your loved ones. Check out our easy tips for better recycling at home.

Choose among stone paper notebooks, bamboo cutlery, a fantastic Bluetooth speaker made from recycled plastic, or many other options.

Fireworks pose a wildfire risk

Apart from water, air, and soil pollution, another great threat arises from using fireworks. Wildfires are more likely to happen in drought conditions. But, given that global warming is a worldwide issue, we face a serious problem.

While nobody wants to intentionally start a fire, celebrating a New Year or any other important occasion can lead to devastating fires. If the fire starts, it is crucial to act immediately and call the fire department. The impact this can have on the environment is huge, and if we can avoid using fireworks, we absolutely should do this.

Fireworks Pose a Wildfire Risk

Thousands of people get injured every year due to fireworks

Traditionally, the emergency rooms are hosts to people with firework injuries around New Year and other important holidays. Setting off fireworks requires plenty of skill, and mishaps easily happen. This means the fireworks do not only pose a threat to our health through polluted air and water but also through physical injuries, with possible death cause.

The larger the firework the greater the chance of an injury. Our advice is to either not start fireworks at all, or simply watch the fireworks that were set by skilled pyrotechnicians.

Both domestic and wild animals are terrified of fireworks

If you have a dog or know someone who has a dog, then you must know how stressful it is for them to hear the firework noise. Dogs are the most affected animals, even prone to heart attacks out of fear, but other animals suffer as well.

If you take a closer look during the show, you can see birds frantically flying, trying to escape the dangerous situation. We can only assume how much fear they actually feel. Loud noises and flashes of light during the night can be detrimental to their health.

A Dog Scared of Fireworks

What are the alternatives to fireworks?

When a product has a detrimental effect on people`s health, wildlife, and nature we should stop using it even if there is no alternative at all. Fireworks do have an alternative, although it may not be as pompous as the real thing. Instead of firing off heavy metals in the open air, the drone laser show is equally amazing.

They can captivate your attention, and take your breath away with the astonishing creation of animations and shapes in the sky. And all of this without a single spooked animal, and without heavy metals injected into the air, water, and soil.

The other version of an eco–friendly firework is using biodegradable confetti. Without any harm to nature, and with a similar physical effect as starting fireworks, throwing biodegradable confetti is a perfect way to celebrate important dates in your life. There are different shapes of confetti, so you can choose between hearts, rounds, stars, flowers, butterflies, snow, and many more.

You can use them when celebrating your engagement, birthday, New Year, and any other milestone in your life. And all of this while knowing that no harm has been done to the environment.

Biodegradable Confetti

You may wonder are there eco-friendly fireworks? There are fireworks that are less hazardous than others, but by all means, there aren`t eco-friendly fireworks. Avoid starting fireworks, and enjoy public ones if you need to. Go to a concert and have plenty of fun with your loved ones, instead of watching fireworks.

Why should you start leading an eco-friendly life?

Someone may say that fireworks are short-term and they make people happy. But, the truth is every item we buy and use and every habit that we create represent our future lives. We should try to eliminate actions that pollute the Earth and learn what does eco-friendly really mean. Then we can incorporate better habits, products, and actions into our lives and enrich them. Both we are our kids deserve to lead a healthy life, be surrounded by nature, and with a bright future in front of us.

Final word

People, domestic and wild animals, and wildlife in general do not respond well to the effects of fireworks. While the explosion is short-term the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and disruption of the normal flow of life have consequences on the environment.

Yes, fireworks are bad for the environment. We need to change our mindset in which we approve of such forms of celebration knowing that it will cause pollution, fear, injuries, and panic attacks in animals. Let`s start making conscious decisions where our actions are in harmony with nature.

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