4 Tips for a more Eco-Conscious Chinese New Year

Updated: Feb 14, 2021

Good Luck, Good Health, Good Cheer and we hope what will be a more Eco-Conscious Chinese New Year!

Our family is a beautiful blend of British, Indian and Chinese, so we try to embrace and celebrate all three cultures, traditions and holidays where we can. We usually would spend this weekend at a favourite local Chinese restaurant (to save my step-mum from having to cook for all of us), but this year will certainly look a little different. A wave from the driveway and an exchange of little red packets through the window will have to suffice.

Families across the world usually celebrate the festival with copious amounts of food and drink with many households taking the opportunity to get rid of old possessions to make way for the new.

However you decide to celebrate this year, we’ve put together some tips on how to have a more sustainable Chinese New Year.

1. Reduce packaging and disposable waste

In Hong Kong alone, 320 million new red envelopes (hong-bao) are exchanged every year, which amounts to 16,300 trees cut down just for manufacturing them .

Furthermore, many red envelopes can't be recycled as they are printed with non-soluble (often toxic) ink and glitter or comprise of mixed materials, which makes them difficult to recycle.

  • Swap your red envelopes for a recyclable version

  • Keep the ones you receive and re-use them to gift others

  • Find a reusable fabric version that you can pull out each year

  • Maintain a social distance by gifting e-hong baos or e-notes instead!

Decorating for the New Year? Try to celebrate using the same decorations each year rather than disposable ones that will end up in landfill.

2. Go more plant-based and reduce food waste

A simple way to reduce your carbon footprint this Chinese New Year is to minimise your consumption of meat. Vegetarian and vegan foods are more readily available and are often a healthier option too.

Seafood is a staple during Chinese New Year. If you opt for fish, why not ensure that it's sustainably sourced, look out for the MSC certified label when buying.

Finally, a national lockdown makes this a little easier as we won't be gathering in great numbers, but try to only cook enough food for what you need and make sure to store leftovers in reusable containers and refrigerate for another day.

3. New year does not need to mean new clothes

A common tradition for the new year is to start with a spring clean, hair cut and to buy new clothes which signifies a fresh start.

Used textiles however can be difficult to recycle. The "fast" fashion industry has a lot to answer for when it comes to the flow of clothing heading to landfill as well as the poor working conditions frequently found in the manufacture of affordable fashion.

Try to re-wear, up-cycle or re-purpose where you can.

If you need to buy, why not try second-hand, swapping clothes with family or friends or partaking in "slow" fashion practices like buying timeless pieces that transcend trends and are made to last.

4. Give Fireworks at home a miss

Fireworks cause extensive air pollution in a short amount of time, leaving metal particles, dangerous toxins, harmful chemicals and smoke in the air for hours and days.

Why not give this polluting display of celebration a miss altogether. The local pets will thank you for it!

Finally it’s the Year of the Ox. According to Asian folklore, people born in the Year of the Ox are strong, reliable, fair and conscientious, inspiring confidence in others. These are all traits that anyone looking to live a more sustainable lifestyle should live by. Here’s to another year of being conscientious and thinking of others; people and planet alike.

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