The 5th of November marks ‘Bonfire Night’ also known as ‘Guy Fawkes night. On this night, people across the nation celebrate the foiled Gunpowder plot in 1605 where 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.
This event is celebrated by lighting bonfires, letting off fireworks, and burning the effigies of Guy Fawkes. It’s one of the most exciting times of the year when family and friends get together to enjoy the crackling bonfires and firework exhibitions whilst enjoying some traditional bonfire sweets such as caramel apples.
Unfortunately, Bonfire night has been criticised on countless occasions due to its detrimental impact on the environment. Even the big UK supermarket, Sainsbury’s has stopped selling fireworks due to the negative effect on the environment.
One thing to keep in mind this bonfire night is how can you make it more environmentally friendly. In this blog, we’ve put together some tips for a more sustainable Bonfire Night.
Traditional fireworks are not eco-friendly as they are made up of charcoal and sulphur fuel, a perchlorate oxidiser to help with burning, with additions of binders, colourants and propellants. Fireworks, especially on bonfire night 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. Some of the toxins never fully biodegrade or disintegrate.
Eco-friendly fireworks are readily available on the market and are perfect for bonfire night. Using nitrogen-based fuel they produce less pollution in the atmosphere, whilst ensuring your display goes off with a traditional bang! Although, please keep in mind that eco-friendly fireworks can be hard to find and can be expensive due to the lack of technology.
You could even opt for sparklers instead, so long as you handle and dispose of them safely. Dunk the finished sparklers in a bucket of cold water or sand, then pop them in general waste when completely cool.
When lighting a Bonfire in your garden, it is easy to be unaware of what material you burn.
Many use Bonfire night as an opportunity for disposing of household waste, unaware of the toxic fumes it emits which can pollute our environment and can be hazardous to our health. For this reason, it is illegal in the UK to burn most types of waste, especially things like plastic, rubber, accelerants and aerosols. You could potentially face a fine of up to £50,000 for illegally managing waste.
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. To reduce the amount of smoke the bonfire creates, try burning only clean, dry and natural materials. Likewise, you can use dry waste and garden waste you can also try to make small changes by using leaves instead of fire starters.
Furthermore, avoid buying any man-made wood as they generally contain plastics, oils or chemicals to keep them looking nice. Hence, burning these plastics and chemicals is not great for the environment. Don’t forget at the end of the night, to douse the fire with water or soil instead of leaving it to switch off on its own, as this allows smoke and chemicals to hang in the air.
It is generally believed that paper lanterns are a great green alternative to fireworks. In reality, paper lanterns use heat like a hot air balloon to stay in the sky consisting of a paper-covered wire or bamboo frame. Even though these do not produce a lot of toxic chemicals in our atmosphere, they do cause an abundance of litter. To be more specific, lanterns are rarely picked up when they hit the ground, they are usually just left to be admired in the staring skies. Therefore, the wires found in the lanterns can trap and 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.
Bonfire Night may provide fun for millions across the nation, but the animal community tends to be less than thrilled. Each year, countless numbers of small mammals like hedgehogs and even pets take shelter in pyres (mistaking them for nests), only to be trapped when the flames rise.
This can be avoided by thoroughly checking your bonfire location and fireworks before you light them up. Moreover, it is prudent to create a barrier around the site with harmless wire to make it harder for them to access the area.
Speaking previously of animal welfare, fireworks on bonfire night UK can be particularly stressful for pets and livestock, who become frightened and upset by the unfamiliar disturbances. Attending organised displays will consolidate the disturbances to fewer areas.
Furthermore, to minimize the community's negative impact on the environment on bonfire night it is suggested to attend communal bonfires or public firework displays. Ask Alexa “Where is the nearest bonfire to me? “.
So there you have it, Doodle Bag’s top tips for enjoying a more sustainable Bonfire Night. It may not be the most environmentally-friendly celebration on the calendar, but by paying a little closer attention and making some smarter choices, you can minimise your impact on the planet. Don’t forget to stay safe and have fun!
Need personalised goody bags for your Bonfire night celebrations? Then, look no further. Doodle Bag explore our large range of eco-friendly textile products including tote bags, drawstring bags, aprons and many more which can be personalised with your logo or design.