Isn't this the BEST time of the year? Baggy jumpers and cosy scarves.Telly gets a whole lot better, and Christmas is right around the corner!
But before we pop open the Quality Streets, there's all the excitement of Guy Fawkes Night to enjoy. Crackling bonfires, fireworks, those caramel apples that hurt your teeth, what’s not to love?
Well, there’s a few things not to love when it comes to the tradition’s wider impact …Though it’s not all bad news. EcoVibe’s philosophy is that living sustainably means making small, manageable changes, so while gunpowder, treason and plot sound inadvisable in general, it is possible to have a more eco-friendly 5th November – Here’s a few tips how!
1. Better Bonfires
Let’s face it, burning any materials is never going to be great for the environment, but you can reduce the negative impact of your bonfire… all it takes is a little extra plotting!
Many use the good old Guy Fawkes pyre as an opportunity for disposing of household waste, unaware of how damaging this can be to the planet and spectators alike. That’s why it’s illegal in the UK to burn most types of waste, especially things like plastic, rubber, accelerants and aerosols, which pollute the environment and harm the health of those nearby.
So does this mean that bonfires are a no-go for the eco-conscious? Not necessarily, as long as you’re careful about how you build, light and douse them – follow our top tips for friendly fire:
- Select only natural materials, like untreated wood that cannot be repurposed or dry garden waste.
- Never use accelerants like paraffin, petrol or meths to light the fire. As well as releasing toxic fumes, they could easily cause the flames to become unmanageable or even lead to explosions. Instead, opt for eco-friendly firelighters and kindling made from natural materials.
- At the end of the night, douse the fire with water or soil rather than leaving it to smoulder out on its own, as this allows smoke and chemicals to hang in the air, while posing a risk of the unsupervised reignition.
2. Animal Awareness
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.
You can help the little guys out by leaving it until the very last minute to build your bonfire, giving wildlife less time for house-hunting. If possible, create a barrier around the site with chicken wire to make it harder for them to move in, and – of course – make a thorough inspection before you light up.
3. Friendlier Fireworks
Speaking of animal welfare, fireworks 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.
And for the planet in general, fireworks pose a hefty problem in terms of the damaging chemicals they release into the air, which then rain down on water and soil, and the plastic casings they scatter over wide areas. Some more sustainable alternatives are:
- Eco-friendly fireworks, which use clean-burning fuel to reduce their pollution.
- White fireworks (which tend to contain fewer chemicals and lingering toxins).
- Ground-based choices such as Catherine wheels, whose debris can be easily collected.
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.
So there you have it, EcoVibe’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 and have your revelries go off with a bang. Remember, living an eco-conscious lifestyle isn't about sacrificing fun for your values. It's about making simple changes to lessen your footprint, one step at a time!