Chinese new year family celebration.

Green Tips for the Lunar New Year

Zero Waste
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Lunar New Year 2024 starts on February 10th! The festivities, which are annually celebrated for 15 days straight, originated in China but are also observed in a number of other Asian cultures including Korea, Singapore, Mongolia, Tibet, and Vietnam. Here are some green ideas to celebrate the Lunar New Year Holiday sustainably!

Green your red packets

Known as lai see in Cantonese, hong bao in Mandarin and ang pao in Hokkien, the red packet is gifted on important occasions. This includes weddings, birthdays and, of course, during the start of the lunar new year. According to Greeners Action (a Hong Kong based charitable environmental group), more than 16,300 trees are used each year to exchange 320 million ang paos during Chinese New Year. And that’s just in Hong Kong. Here are a couple of options to help reduce the environmental impact of the longstanding tradition:
1. Reuse the same red packets each year. Instead of pressing the adhesive flap, use removable tape or string to secure them so that the envelopes can be reused for a number of years. 
2. Email your ang paos instead.

Eco-friendly decorations

Decorate with natural and recyclable materials like paper, cloth, and dried fruits. If you end up with a lot of red packets you can also save them to make lantern decorations for next year such as these:

Avoid decorations like glitter and confetti that are actually just small pieces of plastic and harmful to wildlife. Alternatively, you can also always check out your local thrift store for second-hand decorations. Thrift stores like Salvation Army commonly have pre-loved and sometimes even new decorations.
Image source: Olga Stock. Canva

Give a second life to your clutter

Decluttering is a major part of cleaning traditions at Lunar New Year, but this practice commonly results in a lot of recycling and landfill waste. If items like kitchen countertop appliances, clothes, shoes, and power tools are in your clearing out pile, but still in good condition, offer them a second life by:
  • donating them to a local thrift store
  • posting the items to Facebook on Marketplace, Free Groups, and Buy Nothing Groups
  • selling them on Poshmark
  • posting them on websites like Craigslist or Freecycle.
Have small appliances that need to be fixed? Check if there’s a free Repair Cafe in your community that can fix them.
Lastly, if you find small appliances and power tools that are not able to be repaired bring them to an ElectroRecycle collection site for recycling. Appliances like electric hot plates, pressure cookers, hair dryers, electric portable heaters, electric woks, and rice cookers are all recyclable in British Columbia!

Sustainable festive food tips

  • Avoid plastic packaging waste by gifting homemade goodies and serving homemade drinks in glasses instead of packets.
  • Prevent food waste by composting, freezing, or repurposing leftover food into meals for the coming week. Remember that when you put food in the trash it will be sent to landfill. And when food breaks down in a landfill it creates greenhouse gas emissions which contributes to climate change.
  • You can also reduce your environmental footprint by trying out dishes that are plant-based. Did you know? When you eat less meat, you prevent deforestation and the use of resources (like water and pesticides) that are used to grow animal feed.

    Image source: Ella Olsson. flikr
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