When I was younger, I used to love fireworks. Especially around New Year’s Eve I used to be on the block all day to lit fireworks from the early morning onwards. However, over the years my opinion about fireworks has changed. Right now, I think they should be banned or at least drastically improved. So here’s all the reasons why I think fireworks suck.
But before I list all the reasons why fireworks suck, I first want to say the following. Fireworks are very normal in The Netherlands. If we think about it, there aren’t so many benefits to it, other than that it’s nice to look at them for a maximum of 5 minutes. But when politicians try to ban fireworks, the country isn’t big enough. I guess it’s an identity thing. People associate their identity with fireworks. Or their status. ‘Look at me, I have more than enough money to blow a big part of it up’. But if you try to think about fireworks rationally, it does not make any sense to lit them. Here’s why:
The first reasons why fireworks suck is because they turn The Netherlands into a warzone during New Year’s Eve. For two days, the entire country lights fireworks. In those two days, a lot of people fear their life. People working in health care and other public services have been ringing the alarm about it for years. Police, health care workers and other public servants deal with exessive amount of violence during that period. The stories are horrendous. Buildings or cars are set on fire. Bombs being thrown at people. This leads to fear among citizens, but especially among people working in public services. A lot of those people don’t want to work around New Year’s Eve anymore.
So, there is exessive violence on purpose. That’s already horrible. However, to add onto that: there are also a lot of accidents due to fireworks (especially around New Year’s Eve). In the Netherlands, around New Year’s Eve of 2021/2022, 571 people ended up at their general practicioner due to fireworks. Another 256 ended up at the First Aid, leading to 773 people needing health care in total (source). These numbers are getting worse each year. Due to COVID-19 and a ban or fireworks there was a little dip in recent years, showing us that a ban on fireworks actually works. Another sad thing is that these accidents often happen to bystanders, who didn’t even agree to the risk. So many accidents happen in those 48 hours and could he prevented.
Fireworks can scare animals. 65% of dogs in The Netherlands hide when fireworks are being lit. And that’s just one example, because a lot of pets experience stress from fireworks. For some it can take months to recover from the anxiety. We can train pets and protect them, but there’s another group which we can’t help: wild animals. Especially birds struggle around New Year’s Eve since they have nowhere to go. It is estimated that millions of animals are affected somehow around New Year’s Eve. Animals get scared and run into something and get killed. Others are woken up from their hibernation. Some are killed by a heart attack. Fireworks only do harm to animals.
Then there’s more environmental impact, besides the animals. Since we are blowing up something when we light fireworks, we release particulate matter into the atmosphere. Particulate matter kills people. Globally, 5 million people die prematurely each year from particulate matter. In the first hour of 2020, the particulate matter levels in cities in the Netherlands were 33 times higher than they normally are. Fireworks also lead to heavy metals ending up in groundwater, the air and the soil. And of course there’s also the production of fireworks, about which I couldn’t find much information. Usually that’s not a good thing.
5 Blowing Up Resources
This is a personal opinion, but I think fireworks are a waste of money. You are literally blowing up your money. Sometimes you get some nice views in return, but a lot of fireworks are literal bombs. With all the things happening in the world I can’t wrap my head around that. Why don’t we use the money to house the homeless? Or to feed the hungry? To plant trees? To invest into research to cure diseases?
Everybody should be able to make their own choices but I do want to say that I don’t understand them. There’s people who buy hundreds of euros worth of fireworks each year. But they think organic food is too expensive. Or they say vegan food is too expensive. Or they don’t support charity because they say they can’t afford it. They make small trips by plane instead of by train because the train is too expensive. I just can’t understand.
6 Is this how we celebrate?
You know, maybe fireworks will improve in the future. Making them noiseless or without particulate matter being released. I don’t think that’s going to happen. But even if we made fireworks perfect, I don’t know if it’s how I want to celebrate a new year. Instead of looking at fireworks, maybe we should read out loud what we’re grateful for. Or maybe we should drink or eat our favorite vegan food. Maybe we should play some wonderful boardgames or play an instrument. Or watch a ball drop, like in New York City. I think New Year’s Eve is about spending time with loved ones. We can skip the fireworks.
I vow to never buy or light fireworks myself again. And another thing I can do is vote for a political party who wants to ban fireworks.
What about you? Do you think fireworks suck?