Remember, remember, the 5th of November – gunpowder, treason and plot! Those are the words most associated with Bonfire Night, but ‘eco-friendly’, not so much. However, the good news is that there are still ways you can enjoy this fun night of the year while minimising the environmental impact of your evening. Here are five ways you can ‘plot’ to enjoy sustainable celebrations this 5 of November.
Go to a public display
It’s always fun letting off fireworks at home, but there are lots of arguments in favour of attending organised displays instead. Not only does this minimise emissions and reduce the upset caused to the neighbourhood pets, but it also cuts down on the number of dead fireworks landing here, there and everywhere!
Community displays will ensure fireworks are properly cleaned up the day after, so you can rest assured there aren’t any firework remnants wreaking havoc with wildlife or leaving plastic and toxic chemicals behind. They’re also cheaper than organising your own display, as well as more impressive – so it’s a win win!
Seek out eco-friendly fireworks
If you do host your own display, try to seek out some of the growing number of more sustainable options starting to come onto the market. These tend to use clean-burning nitrogen-based fuel to produce white displays, as the colourful ones are filled with lots more harmful chemicals. Another good strategy is to choose lower-level or ground-level fireworks (such as Catherine Wheels and Roman candles), as these stay in the same place, making it easier to ensure they’re cleared up after they’ve wowed your guests.
Dispose of fireworks safely
Soak any ‘dead’ fireworks and sparklers in water for 48 hours to make sure they’re not flammable before disposing of them. Unfortunately, even though they’re often made from cardboard and plastic, they can’t be put into your recycling bin due to residual chemicals that can contaminate the rest of your recycling. Instead, place them carefully in the general rubbish bin.
Be careful what you burn
If you’re having a bonfire, be careful what you put on it. Tempting though it is to use your bonfire to get rid of any old rubbish, this can release harmful chemicals as well as sometimes wasting things that can be reused or usefully recycled. Only burn untreated wood (not wood that’s been painted or varnished) and garden waste, and don’t forget to check for hedgehogs and other critters before you set light to it!
A waste-free Bonfire Night party
If you’re hosting a Bonfire Night party, you can cut out waste by switching disposable plates and cups and plastic cutlery to real (or at least reusable) glasses, crockery and cutlery. Beer and wine bottles, cans and plastic drinks bottles can all be gathered up and usually recycled in your normal recycling bin (check our Recycling Locator to find out whether this applies to your area, or take them to a bottle bank if not), and you can swap plastic straws for paper ones for the kids. Red and yellow autumn leaves make great eco-friendly table decorations, with the bright colours of fireworks without a hint of plastic in sight.
Finally, don’t forget the food – head over to our friends at Love Food Hate Waste to discover some tasty ideas for Bonfire Night party foods that use up things in the fridge and have plenty you can eat for lunch next day!