With Diwali round the corner, those with Asthma or other lung ailments are already panting at the mere thought of the smoggy air, green warriors are pushing for a pollution-free festival, and the Supreme Court has also thrown in its weight in for good measure.
Can we enjoy Diwali in a green, safe and mostly guilt-free manner? With firecrackers?
Eco-friendly fireworks! Yes, they exist and are readily available too.
Five years ago I initiated a green Diwali outlook in my residential community. We conducted a grand community display, and only eco-friendly fireworks were allowed for individual celebrations.
Among the big changes were –
1. The purchase of firecrackers came down by more than 50% (even by the most dedicated firecracker lovers) without any grudges.
2. People with respiratory problems, pets and young children enjoyed a ring-side view in the evening with a low-decibel, clear-view display in the breathable and non-toxic air.
3. It brought the community together under one brightly coloured sky – like it used to be before the times of high walls and cordoned lives.
The response was tremendous and has been followed every year.
There are children and babies, senior citizens and asthmatics who feel very comfortable during and after the half-hour long display of continuous fireworks and dazzling colours.
It has been a successful initiative on all counts.
So how can we have a green Diwali?
The essential components of any firecracker are fuel and an oxidiser – predominantly, charcoal or other organic compounds, with lead, ash and perchlorate salt.
These are combined to first combust under heat and, with metal alloys in the mix, create the light and colourful sparkle that we look forward to.
To send it up in the air, we need good old gunpowder, which usually contains Sulphur. So that’s your firecracker in a nutshell.
Though perchlorate is toxic to start with, in these pyrotechnic items, it combusts and becomes harmless during the burning processes. So, no big deal, right?
When diffused in excessive quantities, very often, or in closed spaces, the remnants of perchlorate compounds, metal alloys and Sulphur can contaminate the Earth and cause health-related issues.
In traditional fireworks, high levels of Sulphur, metal alloys and perchlorate combust to produce small particles of metal oxides and potassium chloride that are visible as black and dense smoke.
These choke the respiratory tracts. When inhaled in excessive quantities, continuously or in confined spaces, they can cause great harm.
Some traditional fireworks manufacturers have risen to the environmental challenge and have ventured into eco-friendly fire-crackers.
These are either perchlorate-free or Sulphur-free or drastically low on these components compared to regular ones. They also contain a small fraction of metal compounds as opposed to regular crackers.
They use no lead or ash, and the use of nitrates as oxidisers further brings down the release of toxins into the air.
What we are left with after a celebration now is carbon dioxide, water and nitrogen, with minimal air pollution.
Eco-friendly fireworks are just as much fun, produce a lot less smoke and make colours more visible. The difference cannot be ignored.
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Furthermore, crackers created thus bring about brighter and deeper colours of blues and reds that are not possible with conventional pyrotechnics. Who would have thought?
Many of us are continuously striving to bring about better awareness for a greener world, for our children.
My residential complex’s annual community displays of recent years have brought together many like-minded, caring and responsible people under one brilliant night sky.
If we can take this one step further and make a bigger commitment towards conservation today, we can be proud of a decision that our children will be grateful for, tomorrow.
So this Diwali, when you step out to buy crackers, ask for the green kind. They may not be absolutely clean, but they are still better.
This article originally appeared in KALLOLA, written by Tejaswi Uthappa.
You can read the original post here.