Mid-Autumn Festival is a multifold celebration of family cheer – feasting on mooncakes and marvelling at the full moon. However, there’s a darker side to the festival of lights. Discarded paper lanterns, neon glow sticks, mooncake packaging and all those uneaten treats are sadly going straight to landfill once all the festivities are over.
More than ever, we should be examining the traditions we hold and looking for methods to minimise the waste produced annually during this exciting time – an amount that can reportedly go up to 2.66 million mooncakes! Here are a few ways to have a more sustainable Mid-Autumn Festival:
Donate your extra mooncakes
Like the change in your pocket, give your extra mooncakes away to avoid food wastage. It’s reported that Hong Kong households throw away an average of 1.67 mooncakes, mostly due to receiving too many as gifts or not being able to eat them all in time.
If you find yourself with mooncakes to spare, two organisations that will gladly accept your seconds is Food Angel and Food Grace. From now until 29 September 2021, you can bring your unopened mooncakes to one of their 21 collection points across town to be donated to the less fortunate.
Reuse or recycle mooncake packaging
From tin boxes to elaborate gift sets, let’s face it, each year mooncake packaging gets a bit more elaborate with light-up boxes, boxes within boxes, and even boxes that are touted as ‘designer totes’. Look for mooncakes that are wrapped in sustainable packaging (like the ones from Rosewood Hong Kong in 100% recycled paper) or find a way t0 repurpose the mooncake boxes – storing jewellery is one idea.
If not, recycling them is your best bet (although the best option is to minimise the number of boxes you buy). Hong Kong organisations that offer collection points for your discarded mooncake packages include Sino Group and Greeners Action.
Avoid neon glow sticks and choose reusable lanterns
According to the “Mid-Autumn Survey” by Green Power, around 30% of all Hong Kong families purchase glow sticks for Mid-Autumn Festival, and each family uses and throws away around 50 sticks. As the glow sticks themselves cannot be reused or recycled, this amounts to a huge amount of waste. Plus, the sticks are filled with toxic chemicals that can harm the skin and eyes if leaked, not to mention pollute the soil and water.
As for lanterns, which are an essential part of Mid-Autumn Festival, opt for a paper lantern that can easily be recycled, or a plastic one that can be reused year after year. Why not make it a tradition instead of replacing it with something new each time?