Oct 21

Sustainability Burnout: How Unsustainable are Fireworks?

by Florenne Earle Ledger


Lately, we’ve been feeling a little burnt out - and not just because bonfire night is coming up, but because being eco-conscious can be draining sometimes and it’s time to talk about it. It’s that time of year when you don’t know if you should be calling 999 at the smell of smoke or lighting your sparklers and getting in the spirit of things, which has got us thinking about when it’s important to draw the line and enjoy life instead of panicking about the impact of unsustainable novelties, such as fireworks.

Alexa, play Firework by Katy Perry, because yes, we really do feel like a plastic bag drifting through the wind. We all know how difficult it is to motivate ourselves to make sustainable changes in our lives. When there are CEOs of large companies living the high life - it starts to feel pointless taking our reusable cup to coffee shops and not eating meat. We’re using Fireworks Night as a conversation starter to springboard into a wider discussion about sustainability burnout. As much as we want to continue boycotting Amazon and other convenient and fun (but highly unethical) practices, when does it go too far?

Why are Fireworks so bad?

Not only are fireworks single-use and pretty much a pointless waste of energy, but they also emit harmful chemicals. The explosion that occurs when fireworks go off starts a chemical reaction that produces carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen. These chemicals just so happen to be greenhouse gases, aka, the gases making our planet warmer contributing to climate change. So in light of that (no pun intended), it can be stressful to think about the fact that whilst we are in a climate crisis people are choosing to put more of these chemicals into the atmosphere for the sake of 3 seconds of colour in the sky and loud noise (okay we really sound like a sustainability scrooge). As well as poisoning the air, the chemicals contaminate drinking water sources and pose a serious threat to animal habitats and wildlife. The hedgehog living its best low-carbon life didn’t ask for this. We’re really struggling to see the benefits of fireworks tbh. Sorry not sorry!

So… what’s the tea?

So with all things considered, fireworks are bad for the planet and we will be boring our friends and family with speeches about the damage they cause to the earth for the next few days. But what about our original question? When does being eco-conscious go too far and lead to sustainability burn out?

We’ve decided balance is key. Find what gets on your nerves and learn about the ethics behind it. It’s easier to make ethical and informed decisions when you actually care about the cause. We love slow fashion and find it easy to boycott PLT and ZARA because we’re not interested. But I admit, sometimes I order salmon when I go out because 1) I’m a bad veggie and 2) I love salmon!!! Moderation is key.

It is super important to pick your battles and make an effort as an individual, no matter how demoralising it feels at times. No one should take on the full burden of the climate crisis, so choose something you care about and try to commit to making a difference in that area. That’s why we’re spending the next few days harping on about fireworks to anyone who will listen because it matters to us! That’s not to say we would judge anyone for enjoying fireworks night this year, but it’s always good to be mindful.

To make it less inconvenient to stay sustainable, we’ve made a list of easy changes to make to your life that won’t leave you feeling burnt out and stressed at the state of the world.

Easy ways to Avoid Feeling Burntout

  1. Set up a monthly donation

    Do your research and set up a monthly donation for as much as you can afford (even if it’s only £5 or £10, every little helps) to a sustainable charity that fights a cause close to your heart. Whether it’s a local charity, wildlife conservation, or refugee support network, choosing a cause (or multiple) and setting up a monthly donation (or even if it’s just a one-off) does make a difference. There are many amazing charities out there that deserve your support. It feels good to know you’re doing your bit on a regular basis.
  2. Choose an establishment to boycott

    How about making a conscious effort to stop shopping from one unethical shop or business at a time? It’s more manageable than entirely vetoing something from your life. Stop going to Starbucks or Wetherspoons, don’t order from PLT for a month - avoid ZARA this Christmas, etc - there are so many small changes you can make that over time will have a direct impact on unethical businesses. Tell your friends to do the same, there’s power in numbers!
  3. Limit your single-use plastic

    If you travel a lot and find yourself buying on-the-go food or plastic water bottles, do the right thing and invest in what you need to limit your plastic intake. We assume you have a reusable bottle (use it!), so why not get invest in travel cutlery? Did you know that wooden forks actually use more energy and are worse for the planet than plastic ones? The most ethical option is to take one you already own -even if it’s just from the kitchen drawer, not a specific travel fork, this is a good step and an easy change to make. Get yourself some Tupperware and take food on the go rather than buying those little yogurt pots from Pret all the time (RIP because I am obsessed with the 5 berry granola pot, please help me). It’s not to say you can’t have these things, but try and limit your consumption and be mindful.
  4. Sign petitions and email your local MP

    It literally takes 5 mins to sign a petition for a cause your care about or send an email to your local MP telling them to value climate change as an urgent matter. There are pre-written drafts online that make it even easier. If you’re deeply concerned about the planet, this is an easy way to contact someone who can actually do something (whether or not they will use their power is another question, but it’s worth a try).

It feels bleak sometimes, but there are things to be grateful for. We’re part of a great sustainability community here at Whering and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Sometimes it’s nice to revel in the comfort of your echo chamber. Enjoy being part of a sustainability community made up of people that actually care about others and the planet to avoid feeling burnt out. Good luck besties!

Something on your mind?

Share your thoughts with Whering community.

If you have an idea for an article around fashion, culture, environment, news, wellness, shopping or DIY, submit a pitch to us!