Fireworks: Their Impact on the Environment
Fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Some of us love them, some of us aren’t so keen (especially our four legged friends). As you may have noticed, the large fireworks displays are less and less frequent and more and more expensive, and much of this is to do with the pollution they create.
Fireworks cause extensive air pollution in a short amount of time, leaving metal particles, dangerous toxins, harmful chemicals and smoke in the air for hours and days. Some of the toxins never fully decompose or disintegrate, but rather hang around in the environment, poisoning all they come into contact with. Exposure to fine particles, like those found in smoke and haze, is linked to negative health implications, such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, asthma attacks and even heart attacks, according to the EPA. People at greatest risk for problems are those with heart or lung disease, older adults and children.
In a fireworks display, those particles that fall to the ground (chemicals and actual physical pieces of waste) often contain propellant chemicals and colorants, which find their way into the soil and our water systems. Many of the raw materials used to create fireworks are mined from mountains, a destructive process that cuts down forests and destroys wildlife habitats. Leftover rock is discarded into valleys, blocking and polluting flowing streams.
But the celebrations don’t have to be marred by chemicals and an ever-expanding carbon footprint! In Sydney, Australia, for example, the city’s famous fireworks display (it’s always the first one to go off!) is 100 percent carbon neutral. Event goers are encouraged to bike, walk or use public transportation to get to the festivities and nearly all of the garbage left behind is recycled. The professional grade fireworks are made from biodegradable paper, leaving no compounds or chemicals wafting through the air. For any residual pollution resulting from Sydney’s firework display, the city purchases carbon offsets, which ensure a zero carbon impact event. Carbon offsets support clean and renewable energy projects that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
If your local fireworks show isn’t following Sydney’s great example, then you can do your part to offset the damage with carbon offsets from TerraPass. Purchase our carbon offsets to support your community’s events or to offset your personal contribution to pollution this New Year’s holiday. For less than the cost of a few New Year’s Eve cocktails, you’ll support projects around the country that reduce carbon emissions and help ensure a more sustainable future.
Note, however, that there are many fabulous, fun, eco-friendly alternatives to fireworks displays this New Year’s Eve. Some great options: attend a concert, go skiing or take a hike, celebrate under the stars on a beach or mountaintop or simply stay at home, ringing in the New Year with great music and conversation.
For more environment news and information, stay connected to the TerraPass Footprint Blog. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook, where we’re always sharing tips and information on living an eco-friendly, green lifestyle.