Greener way to welcome the New Year


2013 is now two days away!

What could be more fun to welcome the new year than by making noise and setting off fireworks?  Yes, fireworks has been so much a part of peoples’ culture. It seems to be woven into the very fabric of almost all nations that an occasion cannot be complete without it.

But don’t you realize that even as we marvel at those blazing, colorful fancy lights up there, we are also putting our lives at risk?  When we set off fireworks into the air, it releases toxic elements like lead, smoke and particulates, chromium and barium, carbon monoxide, chlorates, dioxins, nitrogen and sulfur oxides – chemicals that are hazardous to human health, other animals, and the environment.  Although, there has been no record yet as to how exactly fireworks affect human health and the environment, it is neither easy to pin down the reason for the development of anemia, hypothyroidism, or cancer.

Let’s take a look at some of the composition of fireworks:

Perchlorates.  Although much of this compound is transformed to a controllable level during combustion, its residues may fall back down to the water system and soil, posing threat to humans once ingested. High exposure to perchlorates can significantly limit the human thyroid gland’s ability to take iodine from the bloodstream, resulting in hypothyridism or unusually low activity of the thyroid gland.  Perchlorate exposure is specifically harmful to fetuses.


Smoke.  The burnt charcoal and sulfur fuel of fireworks have particulate matter that can get lodged in human lungs, posing threats especially to those who have chemical sensitivities or asthma.

Barium.  Exposure to barium that exceeds EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) drinking standards may cause gastrointestinal problems and muscular weakness.

These are but few of the many detrimental effects of fireworks to humans, other animals, and the environment.

Does this mean, therefore, that we should altogether ban the use of fireworks?  That is such a difficult move to make at this point.  But, we can make a difference!

There are other fun ways by which we can still have spectacular activities on New Year’s Eve and other special events sans fireworks.  Here are some of the environmentally friendly alternatives:

  • Recycled confetti.  For sure, you have old colored magazines at home.  Instead of letting them gather up dust and consume space, cut its colored portions and give them to your kids to throw instead.
  • Paper horns.  Give your kids paper horns to blow and make noise with.
  • Musical instruments.  Playing your trumpets, saxophone, or other instruments to welcome the coming year is much more pleasing to the ears.
  • Organize a parade.  If you want to have loud crashes and bright colors, you may want to organize or participate in a parade in your community.
  • Coins, beans, pebbles.  Get crafty.  Put some coins, dried beans, or pebbles inside empty cans.  Seal them with plastic or paper and tape; and, shake them up!
  • Kitchen utensils.  In the Philippines, children revelers – especially in rural areas – have the ingenuity of clinking spoons and forks to make noise.


Paper horns

3 Replies to “Greener way to welcome the New Year”

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