Despite its rather bloody origins, setting off fireworks and gathering around a bonfire is a family favourite event in the UK calendar.
Toffee apples and jacket potatoes, getting together with friends, wrapping up against the chill – Bonfire Night can be a great way to celebrate the colder, darker season. And we’re always in favour of people being sociable outdoors!
All those fires and fireworks do have an impact though. Pollutants such as lead and titanium are essential to create crackles and sparkles – and these are exactly the same pollutants that factories and waste incinerators try to filter from chimneys to minimise the risk to air quality. Back in 2014 several places in the UK, such as Manchester, Merseyside and Yorkshire, reached the maximum 10 rating on the air pollution index after Bonfire Night.
So how can you enjoy bonfire season without being a killjoy?
Here are our top tips to have fun and keep us all as safe as possible:
Attend a public display
The most eco-friendly way to participate in Bonfire Night to avoid creating your own! Gathering in one place for a bigger display will result in fewer emissions than everyone organising their own garden events. It can also be a great way to gather with friends and support local community organisations. For younger children who don’t like crowds, simply taking a walk in the evening and watching the skies can be magical (especially with a flask of hot chocolate!).
Be fire aware
If you are going to have a bonfire, only burn clean, dry fuel. Don’t use treated wood or plastics, and rather than firelighters, use kindling to get your sparks going. Only build your fire on the day you’ll be burning – hedgehogs and other small creatures use piles of wood as shelter, and risk being part of the fire if you build in advance.
Choose your fireworks wisely
It’s possible to buy fireworks that use compressed air rather than gunpowder for launch – which means the chemical compounds used to fire the shells of traditional fireworks aren’t released into the air. These are now used by Disney for their big displays but can be hard to come by in retailers. Generally speaking, white coloured fireworks will have fewer harmful chemicals than the more colourful versions.
Avoid releasing sky lanterns. While they don’t need chemical propulsion to launch, you can’t control where they end up, and they can be hazardous to wildlife and livestock who might ingest them or get trapped inside the wire.
Do Bonfire Crafting
If you’d like to get into the spirit but want to stick to daytime activities, take advantage of the amazingly colourful leaves the trees are dropping at the moment, and create your own bonfire and firework-inspired pictures.
However you celebrate, look after the vulnerable around you – keep pets indoors and ensure young members of the family are warm, not frightened by the noise or tempted to wander to close too the action.
We hope you have a wonderful time enjoying this colder weather and the colourful skies!
Image credit: http://lightlyenchanted.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/3d-bonfire-and-fireworks-art.html