Diwali is the festival of lights, a time for festivities and cheer, where families and friends get together and exchange presents, eat sweets, and light up their homes with diyas and rangoli art. It symbolizes “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.” and is widely observed. The sense of warmth, appreciation and togetherness that this holiday provokes plays a large part in it’s importance and reputation. Celebrated by millions of people, starting in South Asia and the West Indies, now all over the world, the celebration spans the month of October or November. The occasion lasts for five days, but the festivities last for weeks.
People get together and light the sky up, and while there is no denying the beauty in the traditional activity, there are some environmental impacts that tend to get overlooked. The action of individually lighting fireworks and firecrackers (during all celebrations which call for it) in itself is not harmful enough, but added together, the effects are causing a strain.
There are ways of maintaining the air pollution that is generated, while still being able to have fun and participate in activities, it is just important not to overdo it- simply for the sake of the bigger ecological picture.
Fireworks and diwali go hand in hand, although lately this celebration tactic has gone overboard. Fireworks create dire consequences, during all phases of its lifeline. During production, the chemicals used in the manufacturing process pollute surroundings and create large buildups of waste. During combustion, the chemicals can put the surrounding people at risk. It is a real threat for people with asthma or chemical sensitivity. The inhalation of these chemicals can also cause breathing difficulties, and highly populated cities like Delhi face the brunt of impact with the nearly suffocating air.
Additionally, the greenhouse gases released from fireworks jeopardize the planet’s stability. Over-accumulation of greenhouse gases causes a buildup in the atmosphere, creating a blanket and warming the overall temperature. The steady climate rise comes with it’s own list of problems, destroying habitats, resources and posing a great threat to majority ecosystems, if not all.
Putting an end to the usage of fireworks is not an option most people would consider, so there are alternatives to make the most of the fun, while limiting possible dangerous reactions.
- Reducing the days of celebration.
The occasion lasts five days, but celebrations go on for weeks before and after the said five. Each get together consists of hour of lighting firecrackers and fireworks, and with more than 1 billion people celebrating, the effects add up to be outrageous. In 2019, days before Diwali, New Delhi citizens were concerned for their own welfare, scared of what would happen when the diwali celebrations clashed with the unhealthy air quality and smog. The air quality index, which ranks pollution from 0-500, reached 256, classified as “very unhealthy.” Rather than lighting fireworks every day for an entire month each year, it is better to limit celebrations to one or two nights. This way it stays true to the original celebration of 5 days, and reduces the amount of unnecessary pollution.
- Reducing the hours spent celebrating.
Rather than lighting fireworks for the entire night, creating both air and noise pollution, setting time regulations would prove beneficial. This will make the event more exciteful and inviting, rather than overtime becoming a nuisance to those not participating. Having set times would increase anticipation for the event and would likely have better social results. Additionally, reducing and regulating the hours spent on launching fireworks is sure to bring down the overall collection of unclean air and over time it;s impact will begin to show clearly.
The accumulation of waste is highly unsustainable, and a lot of the waste is not disposed of properly. It is not uncommon to see used firecrackers heaped up in corners on the streets, and while this is already harmful to the environmental growth of the location, it is highly toxic for any animal or living thing that could unknowingly ingest it.
There are proper ways to dispose of used firecrackers.
- Submerge firecrackers into a bucket of water
- Leave submerged overnight
- Double wrap firecrackers in plastic wrap so it does not dry out
- Place inside a regular garbage bag and take it to your solid waste facility.
This article previously mentioned the effect chemicals from combusting fireworks have on people.
Here is a list of more specific issues triggered by the chemicals released from firecrackers:
It is important to raise awareness about the environment and it’s steady deterioration. Changing our lives in these small ways can have the greatest impact and people must be reminded to never overlook the smallest actions they can do to create a better future.