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The 5th of November marks Guy Fawkes night, also known as ‘Bonfire Night’. People across the UK celebrate by lighting bonfires, shooting fireworks, and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes, in celebration of the foiled Gunpowder plot in 1605. Guy Fawkes and his group of provincial English Catholics attempted to assassinate King James I, by blowing up the Houses of Parliament using 36 barrels of gunpowder.
Compared to last years bonfire night, where social gathering was banned due to the pandemic. This year’s bonfire night will be more exciting, with large groups and explosive fireworks displays happening across the country. Unfortunately, Bonfire night has been criticised on countless occasions due to its detrimental impact on the environment, so here is a list of tips to make your bonfire night more sustainable.
Avoid Burning Hazardous Materials
When lighting a Bonfire in your garden, it is easy to be unaware of what material you burn. Do your research, avoid burning anything illegal (domestic waste), and anything that can emit toxic fumes, which can pollute our environment and can be hazardous for our health e.g. plastics and rubber.
You could potentially face a fine of up to £50,000 for illegally managing waste. A spokesperson at the Environment Agency said:
“Whilst we want people to enjoy the occasion it is illegal to burn most types of waste and setting fire to treated wood, tyres, plastics, rubber, and oil can seriously harm health and pollute the environment.”
If you do plan on burning a bonfire this year, be sure to select clean items, non-commercial waste, and only small amounts of untreated wood, paper, leaves, and cardboard.
Use Eco-Friendly fireworks
Traditional fireworks are made up of charcoal and sulphur fuel, a perchlorate oxidiser to help with burning, with additions of binders, colourants and propellants. When ignited, the pyrotechnics are spectacular. But according to Terrapass, fireworks can cause extensive air pollution in a short amount of time leaving metal particles, dangerous toxins, harmful chemicals and smoke in the air for hours and days.
Eco-friendly fireworks are readily available on the market. Using nitrogen-based fuel they produce less pollution in the atmosphere, whilst ensuring your display goes off with a traditional bang!
Avoid Paper Lanterns
A Lot of people believe that paper lanterns are a great alternative to fireworks unfortunately, they are not. Paper lanterns use heat like a hot air balloon to stay in the sky consisting of a paper-covered wire or bamboo frame. Although these do not produce a lot of toxic chemicals in our atmosphere, they do cause an abundance of litter. Once airborne, they are left to be seen but usually never disposed of once it hits the ground, leaving material that can trap or harm animals.
The RSPCA states even ‘biodegradable’ paper lanterns are not safe to use because materials like bamboo are used instead of wire but can take decades to degrade, and there’s still a fire risk.
A Futuristic Alternative
Overall, bonfire night is fun and spectacular. But unfortunately, debris such as fireworks, sparklers, and firecrackers are not biodegradable which often means it ends up washed out to sea or dumped on the field. Fireworks are also known to give thousands of pets in the UK terrible stress. It’s estimated that 45 percent of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear fireworks.
So instead of lighting fires and setting off fireworks that create a lot of noise, air pollution, and waste. We will hopefully be able to replace these old Bonfire Night practices with innovative drone shows which are reusable, and overall safer for our planet.
Here is a great example by intel: