Eco-friendly fireworks: is a green bang really possible?

Curiosity Box Firework

If you’re a keen Coldplay fan, you’ll probably be aware of how committed they are to the environment. And for their 2022 tour, they’ve taken this to a whole new level. 

After taking three years out to work on ways of becoming more net-zero, they’ve promised to cut their tour’s emissions by 50%, and have pledged to plant one tree for every ticket sold. From biodegradable wristbands and compostable confetti to a “kinetic floor” that captures the energy created by the fans during the show. Even the stage is made from reusable and sustainable materials like bamboo and recycled steel!

But when it comes to the shows themselves, they’ve pledged to use almost entirely renewable energy, a promise that even encompasses their wild and wonderful pyrotechnic displays. 

But is there really such a thing as eco-friendly fireworks and how do they work? 

Why aren’t fireworks normally eco-friendly? 

Unfortunately, traditional fireworks are made up of ingredients that can be harmful to the environment. 

Mix together charcoal and sulphur fuel, a perchlorate oxidiser (this helps with the burning bit and reduces smoke), along with binders (these hold the firework together), colourants (to make it bright and exciting), and propellants (that make it whizz up into the air), and you get a good old-fashioned firework that we’re used to “oohing” and “ahhing” at every Autumn around Diwali and Bonfire Night. 

The problem is this: When lit, they emit huge amounts of smoke, and unwanted perchlorates and by-products from the colourants shoot out and scatter around the site, getting into the water networks, the soil and plantlife, and potentially even hurting animals too. 

Not good news for the flora and fauna around the firework site. 

What about eco-friendly fireworks?

Scientists in China, India and the United States have been working on alternative, clean, nitrogen-based fireworks. The perchlorate oxidiser isn’t needed because there’s no smoke to take care of, and only small amounts of metal salts are needed to produce the brightly coloured flames. 

Annoyingly, these fabulously forward-thinking bangs aren’t readily available on the market. That said, give it time and we should be seeing them enter into the mainstream. 

In the meantime, there are ways in which we can enjoy the science of bangs without destroying the world around us. A laser show is our favourite. Not only is it gentle on the ears (great news for those of us with sensory concerns around bonfire night!), but you get an amazing light display without impacting the environment. 

Other things to try: using string lights, a bubble display, eco-friendly glow sticks or confetti bombs.

And, if you’re feeling particularly inspired, why not check out our Amazing Earth box?

Introducing… the Amazing Earth Box

Our planet is amazing and there’s so much we can do to learn how to look after it. Children are keen to save the planet and this box is a great way to explore the science behind the complex global challenge of climate change. The Amazing Earth Box includes:

🟩 The Greenhouse Effect Jumbo/Tots/Nano: What is it and how does it work?

💨 Amazing Anemometer Jumbo & Nano: Explore the power of wind, and even measure it!

🎡 Windy Wheels Tots/Tots Nano: How can we use wind as a source of sustainable energy?

🌊 Acidic Oceans Jumbo/Tots: Looks at how CO2 is impacting our oceans.

📦 Biodegradable packaging Jumbo/Tots: Test the degradability of some common materials.

⚛️ PLUS a collectable CO2 Molymod! *Jumbo only*

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