Top 5 reasons not to support fireworks, July 2020

There are more than five reasons to not support fireworks through not buying them or going to fireworks displays, but any single reason from the following list should be sufficient. For further explanation of these and additional reasons not to support the use of fireworks, Greta Gaard devotes Chapter 4 of her 2017 book Critical Ecofeminism to fireworks. There are many environmentally friendly and social justice oriented alternatives to fireworks such as laser shows, block parties, or stargazing.

  1. Historic links to colonialism and elitism.

HIstorically, fireworks in the European tradition have their roots in celebrations of the social elites. Fireworks displays would be used to celebrate royal marriages, births, military victories, coronations, etc., and symbolized the superiority of elites over all “othered” groups–the poor, foreign nations, and nature. 

2. Fireworks use funds that could be better used to improve social infrastructure.

Fireworks displays are expensive with costs in the tens of thousands of dollars or even millions of dollars for large shows. Municipal funds are often spent on fireworks events which could be used instead to clean drinking water, sponsor reading programs, provide supplies to the elderly or disabled, etc. 

3. Fireworks pollute the air, water and soil.

Many hazardous chemicals are used to make and control the workings of fireworks. These materials fall to the ground and get in the soil, water and air and cause injuries and even death. 

4. Fireworks scare and endanger lives.

Nonhuman animals are often very frightened by the sounds and bright lights of fireworks. Animal shelters and wildlife centers frequently experience large increases of stray animals, injuries, and traumas immediately following fireworks displays. Fireworks can also trigger PTSD in human military veterans or refugees who have flashbacks to violent experiences with war. 

5. Fireworks don’t actually celebrate what they symbolize or claim to celebrate.

Fireworks are often used to celebrate independence days or the founding nations. While the focus is on freedom and independence, those in Western and developed nations are only “free” if they conform to governmental rules. Those who dissent are traitors, unpatriotic or terrorists. In the United States, July 4 fireworks displays also celebrate a time in which most inhabitants of the country were not, and are still not, truly free.