3 tips for a Happy (and more eco) Chinese New Year!
The Year of the Pig is here! We wish all the Pig zodiacs out there, compassionate, generous and diligent according to the Chinese beliefs, all the best in Your year! This is your time of inevitable success, but also vulnerability - make sure to take extra care of yourself, but be brave - and remember to try to have something red with you at all times!
Chinese New Year, apart from its amazing magical and symbolic value, is associated with three things that we consider slightly unnecessary and possible to be substituted. We listed them quickly out for you here with small tips of how to go green into the Year of the Pig!
One of the most imminent things anyone who has ever visited China during the Lunar New Years celebrations thinks about, is the fireworks. Even though the local authorities in over-polluted cities like Beijing have history of banning fireworks for Spring Festival celebrations, which is also true this year - however, it is usually very hard to execute the ban and get rid of the social importance of those while celebrations are underway. We have been writing about fireworks also on the occasion of our own New Years Eve and how it is actually better to just skip them. But less amount of fireworks does not only equal less pollution. According to Deccan Herald “the reduced sales led to fewer injuries. Only 81 people were hurt in the first six days of the holiday, a 21.4 per cent drop from last year.” We understand the aesthetic appeal of fireworks, but knowing what we know about their toxicity, and harm they can cause not only to environment but also health of those who use them - we do not see any justification for still using them regardless. It’s just one of those things that seemed reasonable when we did not have enough knowledge about it - but not anymore.
HONG BAO (RED POCKETS)
To those who are not familiar with hong bao - it is a very traditional gift for Chinese New Year, handed over generously to family members, friends, co-workers, employees. Hong baos are simply small red envelopes that usually contain small amounts of money and a card with good wishes. It is customary to give away red pockets during New Year and express gratitude. To be honest, it is considered rude not to give away any money at all. As a result, there are massive amounts of paper envelopes printed with red and gold patterns every year ending up in trash after their content is well received (because of the decorative elements, the envelopes cannot be recycled together with paper). Happily, thanks to systems like WeChat, e-hong baos get increasingly more popular, with around 516 million users sending money this way and, thus, significantly reducing the amount of generated trash. For those who are not using technology that way yet, we would highly recommend it over using a piece of paper for an insignificant amount of time just in order to throw it away later on. Alternatively, we can look for fun ways to recycle hong baos into something else and giving them a second life!
It is common for shops around China to organise sales and open-around-the-clock shopping sprees around the Lunar New Year celebration time. Collections come out in special, limited, red-coloured editions, marketers go out of their way to promote new gadgets and accessories and do their best to be more appealing than their competitors. There is no denying that Chinese society is a highly consumerist one. The numbers from 2018 show that in the three months proceeding the last New Year, the number of ready-to-buy luxury items in stock had risen by 85% compared to three months before CNY in 2017. That means nearly twice as much stuff got produced in only one year, and only to cater for the Spring Festival. While for some this can represent great news, meaning the society gets richer and can satisfy their luxury needs, it also means more stuff produced… and discarded.
Needless to say, a lot of gifts consumed impulsively on the spot are of cheap quality and will surely not last long. We are strongly advocating for investing in experiences, togetherness, travels and personal development - rather than objects and material gifts. A trip, an online course, a massage, a theatre or music concert ticket could be money better spent than another piece of garment or cheap electronics.