In the United States, Independence Day falls on July fourth. Typical celebrations include barbecues with family and friends, eating lunch in an outdoor area when weather permits, and violating flag code by wearing clothes with pictures of the flag. Another popular tradition is setting off fireworks, but it’s a tradition we should drop.
Fireworks are bad for the environment
Setting off fireworks pollutes the air, ground, and water. The effects are worse on Independence Day because so many people use them at the same time. In an era of potentially irreversible climate change, we cannot afford such harmful activities, especially on such a large scale. Widespread acts of pollution are the most harmful.
Fireworks harm veterans
Many of the people who fought for the country we’re celebrating returned from combat with PTSD or other mental health issues, and loud bangs that sound similar to gun shots can trigger traumatic flashbacks to war zones. Our nation fails our veterans in terms of mental health care in many ways; please do not make it worse by creating unsafe situations for them. If you must shoot off fireworks, try a brand that intentionally muffled the bangs.
Fireworks endanger animals
Loud bangs and bright flashes can be terrifying to pets and other small animals who don’t know what’s happening. Every year on Independence Day, animal shelters receive a massive influx of runaway pets who heard scary noises and ran until they felt safe. When I was a kid, my grandma’s elderly dog had a heart attack and died on the fourth one year due to the fireworks. Wild animals feel that same fear, and face a greater danger in terms of pollution or destruction to their habitats.
While fireworks are a fun tradition, they are not worth the consequences. If you do choose to participate in these festivities, at the very least research companies that tailor their products to address you be or more of these issues.
Are there other holiday traditions too problematic to continue? Or should we ignore fun activities and focus on other societal issues?