The annual night of celebration can have a very detrimental impact on the environment. On November 5, people all across the country will be lighting bonfires, burning straw replicas of Guy Fawkes and feasting their eyes on spectacular firework displays on Bonfire Night.
While the annual night of frivolity has been celebrated for centuries ever since Fawkes’ plot to blow up the House of Lords was foiled, the annual tradition has been criticised on countless occasions due to the detrimental impact that it has on the environment.
Use natural materials for your eco garden Bonfire
When preparing a garden bonfire, it can be all too easy to throw on any flammable material that you can find.
However, as the Environment Agency explains, doing so can have a tremendous effect on the quality of air in the country.
“Everyone must remember that it is illegal to burn most types of waste and setting fire to treated wood, tyres, plastics, rubber and oil can seriously harm health and pollute the environment,” the agency states.
“There are also fears that people will use Bonfire Night as an excuse to burn old furniture, mattresses or even household rubbish.”
“Try to only burn dry, clean and natural materials. These could be products such as untreated wood or waste from your own garden.”
“Don’t burn any manmade materials such as plastics, oil, rubber, or anything with a chemical or plastic coating, as these all produce huge amounts of pollutants.”
Look out for animals before you light your bonfire
With numbers of many mammals dwindling in the UK, including hedgehogs and water voles, it’s very important to ensure that you’re not putting any animals at risk when lighting your bonfire.
As Green Impact Sheffield, an environmental organisation at the University of Sheffield, explains, hedgehogs may be concealed among garden foliage.
“With their natural ranges getting smaller and smaller, hedgehogs are increasingly moving into urban gardens,” the organisation states.
“Garden log piles are hog heaven, providing crucial shelter and food at a time when they’re preparing for hibernation.”
Green Impact Sheffield advises building your bonfire on the day that you intend to light it, in order to avoid accidentally trapping any animals among the timber.
Otherwise, organise for your bonfire to be held in a location where there are less animals at risk.
Use eco-friendly fireworks or white ones!
It wouldn’t be Bonfire Night without a magnificent display of fireworks in the household garden.
However, all of those ‘Catherine wheels’, ‘Fountains’ and ‘Rockets’ that you’ll undoubtedly spy in the sky are causing a lot of pollution in the air, releasing harmful chemicals in the air that can remain for days.
While eco-friendly fireworks may be hard to find and can be expensive to purchase, if you’re fixed on using fireworks on Bonfire Night, then choosing certain types of fireworks over others could lessen the negative impact that you’re having on the environment.
“Generally, white coloured fireworks will have fewer harmful chemicals than the most colourful versions and if you use more of the ground-based ones, like Catherine wheels, there’s less chance of having debris that you can’t find and dispose of safely,” explains energy company Ecotricity.
Be wary of sky lanterns, we can’t stress this for the environment enough!
Along with the bonfire and fireworks, many people also light sky lanterns on Bonfire Night.
As pretty as they may look in the night sky, they could pose a risk to animals when they eventually land.
“Although sky lanterns don’t need lots of nasty chemicals to launch, they pose a significant risk to wildlife. With no control over where they’re going, they can end up just about anywhere,” Ecotricity explains.
“The wire in the lanterns has been responsible for animals getting trapped and has even ended up in animal feed.
“They may be beautiful to look at but the risks far outweigh the benefits.”