A better bonfire night?


I love bonfire night. It brings back very fond memories for me from when I was a Kid. I remember getting ready to go down to the local church garden firework display with my Dad.

I love the getting ready part, putting the big scarf on, the bit winter coat, the warm hat and taking the short walk down the road with my Dad to the church.

Along the way there would be this fantastic display and array of colours and flashes in the smoky and hazy night sky. The “bangs” and the “screams” from the rockets and the “whizzing” from the Catherine wheels and the joyous cheering from kids and their families in their back gardens.

Upon arrival we would be met with a big cosy bonfire with revelers from around the neighbourhood.

Of course they were complete strangers sharing an evening of “art in the skies” a carefully steamed jacket potato, a cup of volcanic tomato soup and if you were early enough a very tasty grilled big fat sausage. But there was a sense of unity similar to going to church on Christmas Eve and one that I really enjoyed.

As I said still very fond memories and ones that will revisit me every year around this time.

Of course these days there is so much “roar” and “shout” about the environment and rightly so. Climate Change is something that is not going to go away and as a planet we all need to think more about our impact however big or small.

So spinning that round – what about a greener bonfire night? Is there such a thing? Do we have a greener alternative that does not totally obliterate our fond memories of such an occasion? Is there something out there that is a greener alternative or does it pour water over our bonfire night fire.

The reason I ask is that fireworks contain a whole load bad things – lead, barium, chromium, even carbon monoxide and dioxins. More worrying though are the levels of particulates that are released from fireworks and bonfires. Particulates are tiny little particles of soot caused by any kind of combustion, and the smaller they are, the more damage they can do to your body when you inhale them.

Lets be honest we all find it very hard to imagine a bonfire night without Fireworks.

That said we have put together a little list that may help you have a “Greener” bonfire night:

1. White Fireworks

Fireworks themselves are not the worst offenders when it comes to spewing toxic chemicals into the air. It’s actually the chemicals and metals added to the colour that do most harm. White fireworks are much kinder to the environment than the multi – coloured ones and usually cheaper too.

2. Build a better bonfire

Your typical bonfire piled high with painted timbers and the rubbish you’ve cleared out of the shed is an environmental disaster, releasing all sorts of bad things into the air. Keep in clean by burning dry garden waste with a small amount of dry leaves, card, and paper for kindling. Definite no no’s are plastics, oils, household rubbish, aerosols, rubber tyres, or anything containing synthetic foam and paint.

3. Go local

Rather than have you own, find a local event. The atmosphere will be just as fun and will save you time and money rather than organising your own at home. Local councils will have access to more clean timber; garden waste and the effect will be less of an environmental impact than having lots of mini events in lots of back gardens! Be sure to think about how you travel to the events as well. If you can share a ride with other liked minded friends or family then all the better!

4. Eat Local

Traditional bonfire night grub – sausages, jackets, home grown cider! All of it completely “yummy” and all are in season. Plus community events will usually source local produce and fare from businesses on the doorstep. They may even be using last week’s festivities to make pumpkin soup from the leftover carvings!

If you do have your own bonfire then why not use the remains of the fire to cook your guy Fawkes feast the traditional way! Forget cooking with or gas or electricity and chuck your foiled up jackets in the embers and soak trimmed green sticks in water for roasting sausages (grown ups only)

5. Last but not least, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

If you are holding a bonfire night party at home don’t even think about paper napkins, Styrofoam cups and alike. If you are worried about using Aunty May’s best china in the garden then supply some reusable plates and cutlery. When the party ends and you are the last one clearing away the aftermath employ the three 3 R’S and make sure any waste ends up in the correct recycling container.

Whatever you do on bonfire night enjoy it and more importantly be safe.

Environment the green house
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