For many people, the first images that come to mind when thinking of the Fourth of July are of outdoor fun, sunshine, backyard barbecues, and of course, fireworks. While we might all love the bright, colorful displays that light up the sky in celebration of America’s Independence Day each year, it’s important that we consider the environmental impacts associated with fireworks.
According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), on July 4th, particulate pollution is 42% greater than on the preceding and following days. This is because most of the fireworks used for Fourth of July displays contain chemicals such as potassium perchlorate and cerium nitrate, both of which are detrimental not only to the environment but potentially to human health also. Scientists from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that after a big fireworks display, chemical levels in a municipal lake spiked to 1,000 times the normal level. Plus, since fireworks are technically categorized as explosives, they cannot be recycled, and they wind up in landfills.
6 Favorite Alternatives to Fireworks
The simplest way to avoid the hazardous environmental effects of fireworks is to avoid them altogether. Below are some of our favorite eco-friendly alternatives to traditional fireworks.
1. Head to a laser show
Foregoing fireworks doesn’t mean you have to miss out on sparkling lights. Find a laser show to attend near you instead! Because laser lights can be used many times (whereas, fireworks can only be used once), laser shows are still an Earth-friendly option, even though electricity is expended during the show.
2. Project your own fireworks light show
If you’re not comfortable attending a laser show, as you’re concerned about maintaining safe social distance from other attendees, you can purchase an affordable projector on Amazon to project your own fireworks on the ceiling.
3. Safely light a campfire
Sure, fireworks certainly add ambiance to a warm July night, but you can get a similar effect with a campfire. If you’re hosting a BBQ, build a small fire in your backyard if you can do so safely. You can also create your own firepit—you can follow The Home Depot’s guide to get started.
4. Keep the kids entertained with eco-friendly glowsticks
Waving glow sticks around in different shapes can be just as pretty and entertaining as fireworks and they keep you away from all the chemicals caused by an explosion. You can buy a pack of 15 Cyalume SnapLight Eco-Friendly Light Sticks from Amazon.
5. Create a firecracker piñata
If you’re into arts and crafts or have kids who are, making your own firecracker piñata using just a few items, including recycled cardboard and recyclable tissue paper, is a great option.
6. Upcycle an old mason jar into fireworks in a jar
This is another fun project to tackle with the kids. It’s also a great opportunity to speak to them not only how about fireworks impact the environment, but how each and every one of our actions do as well. Plus, you more than likely have everything you already need in your kitchen pantry to create these fun fireworks in a jar: oil, water, and food coloring! Icanteachmychild.com has a great tutorial you can follow.
Fireworks have had a significant presence on Independence Day, but despite their captivating flashes of light, it’s important to consider that they’re also explosives and they emit carbon monoxide and other toxins harmful to the environment into the air. While some traditions should be embraced, others (such as environmentally harmful fireworks) may need to be replaced so future generations can enjoy not just this holiday, but this earth, as well.
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Other Ways to Have an Eco-Friendly Fourth
The above are some of our favorite eco-conscious alternatives to traditional fireworks that allow us to enjoy the festivities of our nation’s birthday while avoiding causing harm to our planet. Along with passing up the fireworks, some other ways you can reduce your impact as you celebrate this Fourth of July include:
- Repurposing old decorations or creating decorations using recycled or recyclable materials
- Illuminating your backyard with solar lights or lanterns
- Ditching disposables and opting for reusable, compostable, or recyclable plates, cups, and silverware
- Making sustainable food choices such as shopping locally for organic ingredients for your big BBQ bash and composting food scraps (and/or donating any leftovers)
- Choosing greener transportation methods (if heading to a friend’s or neighbor’s) like biking, walking, or carpooling with other friends
- Recycling any beverage containers
The team at Spring Power & Gas hopes that you have a fun and eco-friendly 4th of July! If you’d like to discover more simple adjustments that you can make to live a more eco-minded lifestyle, check out our blog for all types of environmentally-conscious ideas.