Celebrate the 4th of July with All of the Excitement and Less of the Plastic
by Rebecca Rockefeller
My family loves fireworks – Some of us more than others, but we all love their flashes of color in the dark night sky. But along with this enjoyment, we’ve been picking up plastic bits from our local ditches and shores over several years now and slightly singed or melted pieces of fireworks are one of our usual suspects. When you’re lighting off over-the-counter fireworks in the dark and admiring the way they look, you don’t notice the shards of plastic falling to the ground, but they’re there. Head to your local fireworks hot spot the day after the next loud holiday in your neighborhood and check the ground – You’ll see what we’re talking about. There’s no reason for despair, though – There are alternatives!
Alternatives to Light-Your-Own Fireworks
If you’d like to reduce this impact in your community (this article at Backcountry Attitude has information about the full environmental impact of traditional fireworks) you could work to switch your community to one of these alternatives:
- If your heart says you must have fireworks for certain holidays, celebrate by staking out a good seat at your community’s professional-strength display. It’s the equivalent of buying in bulk – More bang for your buck and much less packaging to become landfill fodder. Added bonus: It’s a lot less likely that you’ll have to leave the fireworks show early because of singed hair or burnt fingers.
- See about inviting a night-flying kite show such as those put on by Kiteman Productions to your town.
- Get your local Chamber of Commerce excited about bringing a laser show to your town or city.
- Disney pioneered the use of compressed air instead of explosives to launch fireworks, and they’re hoping other businesses will follow suit. If your town runs its own fireworks display already, see about switching over to this technology.
- If you’re in the mood for something completely natural and more peaceful, host a sunset viewing party or stay up all night to greet the colors of dawn.
- Track down some local bioluminescence or take a trip to see these marvels of nature – Glowing plankton, mushrooms, and insects aren’t just beautiful, they can inspire a life-long love of nature and the wonders the world naturally provides plastic-free.
- If it’s not peace and quiet that you’re craving, but some bone-shaking noise, check out this round-up of Do It Yourself noisemaker tutorials from ArtistsHelpingChildren.org
- For the truly daring, try the good old-fashioned verbal fireworks of a heated discussion with close friends and family (pick a subject no one really cares about, and appoint a moderator to keep permanent damage to a minimum).
- Get out your pots and pans and celebrate with a cheerful ruckus like this group greeting the new year.
- Play a few rounds of flashlight tag to light the night up and get everyone’s blood pumping.
- Collect fallen branches and other non-toxic flammable debris and host a neighborhood bonfire. Let the kids roast marshmallows and you’re guaranteed some flaming displays of burning sugar (assign an adult safety officer to insure that nothing else catches fire).
Do you have your own local plastic-free alternative to fireworks? Please let us know – We’d love to share it and spark a move away from plastic-encased fireworks.
Looking for other ideas to celebrate holidays of all sorts in the spirit of the Rs of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rethink? Visit our Trash Backwards app Parties & Gifts page for inspiration and ideas, or look for item-specific ideas using the search box towards the top of our home page.