8 Ways To Make Chinese New Year Traditions More Eco-friendly

The Year of the Tiger is just around the corner, and while it’s tradition to paint the town red (quite literally), we’ve got some tips on how to celebrate the arrival of the lunar new year in greener ways, too.

Read on for eight simple tips on what you can do for a more eco-friendly Chinese New Year celebration:

1. Cleaning and de-cluttering

Source: Soapnut Republic

Spring cleaning and de-cluttering is a must before Chinese New Year in order to rid the house of bad luck and misfortune, while creating space for new things and good luck.

Make sure you use eco-friendly cleaning supplies such as Soapnut Republic and ECOS, and donate your unwanted goods to local charities such as Refugee Union, Impact HK and Pathfinders.

After cleaning and decluttering, it’s also tradition to wear something new from head-to-toe (and ideally something red), whether it’s your undies or a new top. Whatever you end up getting, try to think long-term – is it something you can wear again, or more of a costume-y pick? Of course, the more uses you can get out of your CNY outfit, the better!

2. Chinese New Year Decor

While it may be tempting to go overboard in Chinese New Year decor, including red lanterns, door couplets and paper cuttings, try to only buy what you need. Also, instead of buying zodiac-specific decor (aka. for the Year of the Tiger), make sure some of your decor is evergreen (non-zodiac animal specific) and therefore reusable for many years.

3. Red pockets

Did you know that every year, Hong Kong people go through 320 million red pockets (aka. lai see)? That’s equivalent to deforesting 16,300 trees, according to local NGO, Greeners Action.

While digital lai see pockets aren’t as fun to give or receive, what you can do is buy non-zodiac animal versions, tuck in the flap on the red pocket instead of taping it shut (so that it can be reused), and make sure to recycle the pockets once they are done with.

Greeners Action has an annual ‘Lai See Reuse and Recycle’ campaign where they give away lai see pockets for reuse at various distribution points, and also collect used lai see pockets for recycling. Get all the details here!

4. Flowers

Source: Rosewood HK

Another Chinese New Year tradition is to buy flowers that signify the blossoming of life and good fortune in the new year. Unfortunately, many flowers come wrapped in plastic, or potted in plastic containers.

What you can do here is be mindful of how much plastic and paper packaging is being used each time you visit the flower market (and try to minimise this by buying in bulk) and choose flowers that come in ceramic pots that can be reused over and over again.

Also, try to support local florists as much as possible, such as visiting the local farmers’ and flower market outside Lee Theatre Plaza from now until January 31, held in partnership with SEED.

Source: Lee Gardens

5. Puddings and poon choi

Source: The Cakery

Chinese New Year puddings (aka. ‘go’, which sounds like the same word for ‘high’) range from sweet to savoury, and are eaten during the Spring Festival to symbolise prosperity and growth. On the other hand, poon choi are casseroles typically packed with meats and gravy that symbolise abundance and wealth.

Both puddings and poon choi usually have meat in them, so why not swap one or two out with a plant-based version to lighten your carbon footprint? Here’s our round-up of Hong Kong’s best CNY puddings and poon choi.

6. Chinese New Year Candies

Source: Kerry Hotel

In most households, it’s also customary to have a Chinese New Year candy box (aka. ‘chuen hup’) that’s filled with nuts, dried fruit, seeds and candies, in order to symbolise sweet moments and a sweet start to the new year.

Instead of going for packaged versions of nuts, seeds and dried fruits, head to zero waste stores like Slowood and Live Zero to stock up on these items. As for candies, try to pick the ones with sustainable packaging, or no packaging at all.

7. Fish

Fish is usually served whole and steamed at the Chinese New Year dinners, due to the fact that the word for fish (aka. ‘yu’) sounds like abundance or surplus in Chinese.

Source: WWF

Use the WWF’s Sustainable Seafood Guide to make sure that the fish on your table is the most sustainable option. That way, there will be plenty of abundance left in the ocean, too.

8. Go vegetarian

Did you know? It’s tradition to eat vegetarian on the first day of Chinese New Year in order to detox and cleanse the body, live longer and bring good karma in the new year.

With so many plant-based options available now in Hong Kong (including dim sum, burgers, cakes and even fried chicken), simply swap in some plant-based meat dishes that day, or if you’re short on ideas, order delivery from some of our favourite plant-based restaurants in HK instead!

How will you be celebrating Chinese New Year? We hope that these eight simple tips will help you realise that it’s easier than ever to take a baby green step, no matter the occasion.

Show us how you’re making the Year of the Tiger a shade greener by tagging us on Instagram @8shadesofficial!

See also: 10 Green Takeout & Delivery Options in Hong Kong

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