In December of 2018, a group of irresponsible travellers, camped in the meadows of Dzukou Valley. They lit their bonfire, had fun and then left. In hurry, they forgot to properly extinguish the bonfire and in moments, the entire valley burned. It took 100s of volunteers and hours of hard work to put down the fire and when it was done, it was already too late.
Bonfires, campfires all look fun and a great way to relax. It is a stable activity among travellers who want to enjoy some time outdoors while singing and playing guitar. However, campfires are not good for environment and personal wellbeing. The results and harms are unprecedented.
Here are some negative impacts of bonfires:
Source of pollution
Burning wood releases surprisingly large amounts of harmful compounds such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, benzene, along with other potentially toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs). When you burn firewood in the middle of a secluded location, the smoke adds pollutants in a place that has remained pure. It changes the ecology of that place and harms humans and animals that come in contact of smoke.
You may be burning waste/firewood illegally
A few years back, during a survey in Uttarakhand, it was found that many travel companies illegally procure wood from the villagers in return of money. While no action was taken, it is obvious that bonfires are not a legal activity and authorities can take action if they want to. Many businesses take advantage of bonfires by burning their waste which is also illegal. The burning of trash can double the harm on environment, lungs and wildlife.
Harmful effects on health
The biggest harm of bonfire is on those who are directly in the contact. You’ll notice frequent backaches after campfire nights because while your face is directly absorbing the heat, your back isn’t. Too much bonfire will result in back problems in the long run.
Inhaling bonfire smoke has effect of smoking 10 cigarettes at once. The air pollution frequently results in eye and respiratory inflammations. It can easily triggering asthma or emphysema attacks to those who are susceptible to the harms.
Careless Campfire = Wildfires
Uncontrolled campfire can easily result in wildfires. A single strand of burning leave is capable of burning everything in its surroundings. There have been cases of entire campsites catching fire due to a stray firewood. Wildfires are disastrous and can be cause major loss to life and property. Since you are directly in the range of the incident, your life will be the first to be in danger.
Tips to Enjoy Eco-Friendly Campfires
In India, eco-friendly campfires are only possible if the fire you are burning is not coming in contact of the ground / grass. You can always cover the ground with a layer of sand above with you can burn the firewood. It is also a smart idea to source cow dung cake and burn it. Cow dung cake is natural and the impact on environment is less. You can also replace the sand with bricks and you’ll also find a usable oven.
While doing all this, avoid burning plastic bottles, cartons, or anything synthetic. You can also opt for electric bonfires that you can take anywhere and have a good time with your friends.
Bonfires are not USP for a travel company. In fact, you should avoid the business that promote it and even if you are going with them, choose to opt out of this activity. Small efforts will help everyone in the long run.