Chinese New Year is a joyful time rife with festivities, frivolities, family time and some incredibly full bellies, but as we dive into celebrations this year, it’s worthwhile to identify and solve certain problems that have grown over time, intertwined with traditions and sheer habit. There are customs you’d be hard pressed to battle with, but there are ways to actively be more sustainable this year – no excuses!
It is often the most challenging to convince previous generations to alter a lifetime of tradition, but with careful explanation, a helping hand and at times, some cajoling, you’d be surprised how receptive they can be. By shifting our ways and those of others in our lives, there is hope for our future generations to take on these new, more sustainable methods to celebrate this time of year, who eventually, won’t know it any other way.
Lai see, yes please, but…
A local study performed in 2014 revealed upwards of 16,000 trees were sacrificed to make lai see packets for just one year in Hong Kong alone.
Tradition is tradition and we love it, but maybe it’s time to, well, get with the times. Lai See packets are an inevitable joy for those receiving and pain for those doling out and of course, the poor environment suffers like no other! Be sure to purchase lai see packets that are not specific to the year, better yet, custom made using recycled FSC paper, and tuck the flaps in so they can be reused the following years. Ask your local bank if they have any lai see packet recycling programmes; many do. Take it upon yourself to research e-payment companies as well as banks, where interest in electronic lai see is burgeoning.
The gift of giving
Going through the motions and gifting mindlessly means a gargantuan increase in packaging tossed in the rubbish.
Instead of buying snacks and other edibles, why not make it from scratch at home? It will decrease your consumption of packaging and who doesn’t adore a homemade treat?
Out with the old, in with the new
The age-old adage of spring cleaning en masse only to head straight back out to purchase new things to replace whatever we’ve just eliminated is mind-boggling and simply a vicious cycle we need to break.
When clearing clutter from your home, be mindful with your disposal – sort out recycling and donating thoughtfully and responsibly. Let this be an opportunity to streamline your belongings, appreciate them and identify what really needs to be kept, tossed or replaced.
Decorations are one of the worst offenders during Chinese New Year, as they are rarely kept and used again.
Instead of buying cut flowers, which wilt away all too soon, consider a potted variety which last long after celebrations have ended – surely a much better omen for the new year. You could also make your own festive decorations using repurposed materials and fabrics; a fun activity for adults and kids alike.
All gluttony, no glory
Food wastage is not only terrible for your conscience, damaging to the environment but could be eradicated completely while helping those in need.
Donate excess food to family service centres, nursing homes or any non-profit organisations who are open to donations. Food Wise Hong Kong provide a lengthy catalogue of options. The word “excess” runs rampant during Chinese New Year, especially when it comes to food, so it’s worth taking the time to carefully plan meals ahead of time so that just enough is made, with not too much to spare.