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The Great Green Hope: Out with a Bang!

Posted by: Ryan Puckett
Posted: July 1, 2009
Categories: Uncategorized

Out with a Bang

Hello Indyhub readers! I didn’t want to start my green column with a tirade, but the timing seemed too appropriate not to tell you about my disenfranchised relationship with fireworks. The mainstay of Independence Day celebrations bores me, but what I’m even less interested in is minor league fireworks displays in the cul-de-sacs around town.

I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer and throw a wet blanket on your attempt to recreate the magic of a Kiss concert in your driveway. However, if the thought of burning your hand, losing a finger or taking a fiery bolt to the eye doesn’t impede you desire to channel your inner-Beavis/Butthead, maybe this will: Fireworks are horrible for the environment!

First of all, there is all the excess trash. Fireworks are packaged with tons of paper and plastic. On top of that, most fireworks leave burnt pollutants melted on the pavement. When the rains come, the mess is flushed down the drain and into our streams and reservoirs.

Even more harmful is the presence of potassium perchlorate, an oxidizer used in most fireworks. Perchlorate is bad stuff for Mother Earth with potentially harmful effects on people and the roaming critters that share the outdoors with you and me. And all of those crazy colors in fireworks? They are courtesy of burning heavy metals like strontium, barium and copper with potentially harmful chemicals and pollutants.

Then there is the smoke from the gunpowder that contaminates the air and reeks havoc on those with asthma and respiratory problems.

Oh yeah, and all those fireworks tend to be made in places like China—in other words, manufactured with no regard for the environment and completely unregulated. If you are one of the handful of Guns N’ Roses enthusiasts who purchased “Chinese Democracy,” you may be entitled to have a say in changing that country’s lousy environmental policy (I know, I know, it’s not so great in the U.S.).

For those whose Fourth of July festivities just isn’t complete without some pyrotechnics, the good news is that that greener options are becoming available. Of course, they may cost a little more and the colors may not be quite as vibrant, but progress is progress.

Though it may be a little late now, it might be time to remind our local elected officials and the Indianapolis Indians (fireworks following Friday home games) about the Clean Air Act and the growing eco-friendly fireworks options. A few years ago, Disney debuted a more eco-friendly fireworks technology for its fireworks shows.

Whatever you do, make sure you play it safe and obey the law. The American Pyrotechnics Association lists the laws for every state, including Indiana, here.

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