Using Fireworks without Destroying the Environment

While there is no denying the wonderful and romantic nature of a modern fireworks display, when the smoke clears, the environmental damage can be notable. Pieces of fireworks lay strewn around, wildlife has all been scared away, the air is full of smoke, and, in worst-case scenarios, there may be uncontrolled wildfires.

Have you ever considered their environmental impact? Is there a way to reduce or eliminate these impacts? This blog answers both of these questions to help you to get all of the bang and none of the bust out of your next fireworks display.

A Brief History of Celebratory Explosions

Fireworks have been around longer than the calendar that marks January 1st as the new year. Yet across the USA and in much of the world, New Year’s isn’t New Year’s without fireworks. Historians believe the first firework iterations were bamboo sticks. Chinese people discovered they made loud popping noises when burnt in a hot fire as the air superheated and then rapidly escaped. While a long way off from the pretty streamers and deafening explosions of modern fireworks, it’s likely these ‘bamboo bangers,’ as they might be marketed today, were also used at times of celebration and to mark annual milestones.

Environmental Impact of Fireworks

Fireworks are literally balls of fire that we send high above our heads and then watch as they stream down. This is their basic function, and so it should be no surprise that fireworks do indeed have environmental impacts. The three main ones are:

  • Litter
  • Noise Pollution
  • Wildfire

Let’s go through each of these in detail and explore some ways to minimize or eliminate the damaging effects of all of them.


The aftermath of New Year’s celebrations often includes plastic casings, spent cartridges, and other debris scattered across the landscape. Clean-up can be difficult since it doesn’t come down in one place and can land on roofs, in waterways, or on a neighbor’s property.

Before the clock strikes midnight:

  • Buy biodegradable fireworks: Opt for environmentally friendly fireworks that break down more easily, minimizing the long-term impact on the environment.
  • Pick your firing zone: As safety instructions and common sense also dictate, you want to set off your fireworks in a large open space. This will naturally draw your celebratory bomb debris away from waterways, rooftops, and other hard to clean places.

The next day:

  • Organize a thorough clean-up: Sweep the area under where the fireworks exploded at arm’s length from the next person to make sure you don’t miss any microplastics in the grass.
  • Use a trash container rental or schedule a garbage pick-up service: New Year’s Eve celebrations vary widely beyond the traditional fireworks display. Some families wrap people with toilet paper to make them into snowmen, some jump on bubble wrap, and many people share food and drink with disposable cups and plates. All of this means there are valid reasons to look for assistance beyond your usual kitchen garbage container.Planning for a large load of rubbish can save you from overflowing your usual containers or leaving litter in the environment. Scheduling a garbage pick-up service can give you a useful clean-up deadline and save you from driving to the dump after a late night.

Noise Pollution

Fireworks, though visually stunning, contribute significantly to noise pollution. The sudden and loud explosions can disturb wildlife, domestic animals, and communities, leading to stress and anxiety.

Mitigating noise pollution:

  • Choose quieter fireworks: Look for fireworks labeled as low-noise or silent to reduce the impact on both human and animal ears especially if they are being set off at close range or with young children.
  • Time fireworks display thoughtfully: Consider the timing of fireworks displays, especially in residential areas, to minimize disruptions during late hours. While New Years means late-night fireworks, nobody’s a fan of the neighbors still popping off at 2 am.


Wildfires sparked by fireworks can have devastating consequences. The combination of dry conditions, sparks from exploding fireworks, and airborne embers can ignite surrounding vegetation, leading to uncontrolled wildfires. The National Fire Protection Association estimated nearly 20,000 fires were started in 2018 by fireworks. While the majority of these were on the Fourth of July, wildfires can pose a significant threat to ecosystems, wildlife habitats, and nearby communities even in the winter.

How to avoid burning your house, town, or local forest down on New Year’s:

  • Opt for designated fireworks areas: Choose locations where authorities have designated safe zones for fireworks displays, minimizing the risk of wildfires.
  • Check local regulations: Be aware of local fire regulations and adhere to any restrictions in place during dry seasons or drought conditions.
  • Have fire fighting equipment on hand: Keep fire extinguishers, buckets of water, or hoses nearby to quickly address any sparks or small fires.

Reducing the Impact

Overall, the simplicity of those ancient bamboo fireworks was not only in their design but also in their minimal environmental impact. They were celebrations without lasting consequences, a stark contrast to the environmental challenges posed by today’s elaborate displays. We don’t need to abandon the brilliance of our “big bangs” to embrace a minimal-impact New Year’s Celebration. This can be the year of making a bang without overlooking the collateral damage to the environment.