Over the past few summers, the U.S. has seen record-breaking heat, extended droughts, and some of the most destructive wildfires in our nation’s history. The situation has been so touchy that many states and counties have instituted wholesale bans on open sources of ignition, including fireworks—just in time for the Fourth of July.
Even if fireworks are allowed in your area, there are other reasons to consider a change of tradition. That’s because fireworks don’t just produce showers of sparks. They also rain small bits of trash and toxic chemicals, which often end up in water sources that both people and wildlife rely on. Even smaller devices like sparklers and smoke bombs can release noxious chemicals and waste.
Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to create a bright, celebratory atmosphere—and even a few explosions—without gunpowder or dangerous chemicals. Here are a seven options for how to celebrate our great nation outdoors, without burning it down.