The Bonfire Night controversy has raged for years, over issues from public safety to animal welfare. But it took a cost-of-living crisis to make some councils across the UK cancel events that celebrate on 5 November.
It is not difficult to understand why. With home bills and food prices soaring, for many people, there is little income available to spend on fireworks – and with the environment now a major factor, sending smoke and bonfires into the air may not be the best way to celebrate.
“We want to encourage people to think about how to celebrate with nature in mind,” says Lauren Cosson, of the Essex Wildlife Trust. Bonfires are typically made of wood, leaves, and paper, which are great places for small mammals to hibernate, and fires can cause significant damage.
“In addition to creating rubbish, fireworks pollute the environment with chemicals and greenhouse gases, and the noise they make can really scare away wild animals,” Coson adds.
Local activists have also raised issues associated with Bonfire Night, such as the safety and welfare of pets.
“Although many people are aware of the effect of fireworks on pets, they may not understand the seriousness of the problem,” Koson notes.
Every year, thousands of pets suffer from fireworks and the loud sounds they cause. Research by pet charity Blue Cross has found that 60% of pets in Britain are left in a fright, with dangerously high heart rates when fireworks go off, with 57% of pets shaking, 30% panting, and 26% rushes.
“Many animals have very acute hearing,” says Blue Cross animal behaviorist Becky Skyrim. “Beeps roar [from fireworks] It might cause them real pain in their ears, as well as extreme distress.”
It’s not just dogs and cats that may fear this time of year. Skyrme urges all pet owners to be more aware of their furry friends. Small animals, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, and mice, can get frightened very easily, and when horses are scared, they tend to slip – which can cause serious injuries to them.
With that in mind, how can your family celebrate Bonfire Night, without wasting money, harming pets, or harming the environment? Here are some ideas…
1. Make Recycled Guy Fawkes
Got a lot of cardboard and plastic in your recycling bin? Gather the kids together with some tape and paint and take part in a contest to be the best man. Instead of burning it over a fire afterwards, simply remove anything that is not recyclable and throw it in the trash.
2. Mix some fiery cocktails
Why not invent your own cocktails that look like an explosion of cool fireworks? Orange juice, grenadine, bright blue Curacao, lemon juice, and cranberry juice are just a few of the ingredients you can use to make a very interesting drink. If you put a thick layer of liqueur on top, you can even set it on fire. Small diamonds will add to the effect. Kids can join in if you choose the alcohol-free concoctions!
3. Get creative with diamonds
Speaking of sparklers, they’re a perfect – and cheap – way to celebrate the 5th of November. Put on safety gloves and have a bucket of water or sand ready, then doodle, write your name or create temporary works of fizz and glitter. Art in the air. Use the slow motion function on your phone to capture the fun.
4. Find out more about the history of Bonfire Night
Did you know that the minds behind the Gunpowder Plot hope to install a nine-year-old girl on the English throne if their plan succeeds? Or, when Guy Fawkes was captured, he was standing on 36 barrels of gunpowder – enough to flatten everything in a 40-meter radius? Instead of watching the flames fall in the drizzle this year, stay home with a good book on the history of the plot, or catch up on TV shows, movies, or documentaries about it.
5. Fire finger plate
Some acrylic paint, some black paper, and little fingers look like a messy recipe for some fireworks masterpiece. Take out the aprons and see what you can create together.
6. Toast some marshmallows under the grill
You don’t need to miss the fun snacks if you’re doing without a big fire this year—toast marshmallows under the grill at home and top them with chocolate digesters to make s’mores, the famous American treat. Paired with a cup of hot chocolate, it will warm you all up and feel like a fun upgrade to your usual weekend routine.
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