How to enjoy a greener Bonfire Night

Bonfire Night is an annual British commemoration observed on 5 November to celebrate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605.

Due to Guy Fawkes and his accomplices planning to blow up King James I of England and the House of Lords, fire has always been involved in celebrations regarding the failed plot.

Effigies of Guy Fawkes are often placed on these bonfires to burn. In modern times, fireworks are also synonymous with 5 November.

Unfortunately, it has come to light in recent times that Bonfire Night can have a detrimental effect on the environment.

This is down to the materials being burned and the chemicals in the fireworks, all of which create air pollution which can be problematic to humans, animals and the earth.

So, what can we do about this? We outline some ideas below.

Skip the celebrations

When it comes to being green, the best thing anyone can do on Bonfire Night is to skip the traditional celebrations altogether.

Of course, that option isn’t likely to be popular with the younger members of your family.

You could work on creating new traditions instead though, such as a special family meal with ‘smoky’ foods, followed by fun games using the fire theme.

Attend a local bonfire

bonfire and fireworks

If you’re not ready to quit Bonfire Night or make huge changes to your Guy Fawkes Night traditions, choose to attend a community bonfire rather than doing your own at home.

More bonfires and fireworks equal more pollution, so leave it to the professionals and attend a large local event instead of holding your own.

Check the bonfire for animals

If you are holding your own celebrations, make sure to check for animals taking shelter in your bonfire.

A pile of logs in the garden can be the ideal habitat for hedgehogs getting ready for hibernation, for example.

To remove all doubt, build the bonfire on the day you’re going to be lighting it.

Talking of animals, don’t forget to make sure your pets are happy inside if you are outside — some dogs and cats aren’t keen on the loud bangs associated with fireworks.

Use eco-friendly fireworks

If you’re holding Bonfire Night at your house this year, source some environmentally friendly fireworks.

This new breed of pyrotechnic is nitrogen-rich, burns cleaner and produces less smoke.

You may have noticed there aren’t many on mainstream sale yet, so help grow the demand by tracking some down and buying them.

Check the weather forecast

The extent of air pollution on Bonfire Night from bonfires and fireworks is directly impacted upon by weather.

So, plan your party wisely if you’re having one, and try to choose a clear night without mist or wind.

Avoid sky lanterns

sky lanterns

A fairly recent addition to the celebrations, sky lanterns look beautiful as they float across the sky.

However, please consider giving them a miss this year. Essentially, they are floating litter, as they have to land at some point.

When they do land, they are then a big risk to animals who can get caught up in them. They have also been known to set fire to things.

We wrote a full blog post on the dangers of sky lanterns.

However you end up spending Bonfire Night, remember that every small change makes a difference. Stay safe and have fun!

Published by

Lucy Ravenhall

Lucy is a long-standing editor of the Forge Recycling blog and loves writing about her environmental passions.