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Publication Date : 05-02-2013
Celebrate the lunar year by going green
The Lunar New Year festivities do not have to be a burden on the environment. Here are some ideas to celebrate the season while caring for the Earth.
1. Don’t eat endangered species
The Chinese’s penchant for exotic food is harming wildlife. One dish to avoid is shark fin soup. As many as 73 million sharks are killed every year, many for their fins, and nearly a third of shark species are threatened with extinction, according to a 2011 report by the Pew Charitable Trust’s global shark conservation campaign. Facai moss is another food to avoid. The harvesting of facai (which grows on the roots of grass) has turned millions of hectares of grasslands in China into desert. China outlawed the sale of facai in 2000. Thus, facai available on the market is illegal. Artificial facai can be a good alternative. Abalones and sea cucumbers are also harvested in many countries with little or no management in place, causing them to be easily over-fished.
2. Sort your waste
Have a few bins, boxes or bags ready for the different recyclables. That way, it will be easier to sort the trash for recycling when the festivities end.
3.Buy in bulk
Refrain from offering drinks in single serving cans or TetraPaks. Buy big bottles instead and serve the drinks in glasses. You’ll have less trash at the end of the day.
4.Eat your greens
Chinese New Year meals often feature lots of meats, which are unhealthy for your body and the planet. Let’s change tradition and include more vegetables on the menu.
5.Beware of food additives
Look out for harmful chemical colourings, artificial flavourings and preservatives in seasonal delicacies such as preserved fruits and meats, pickled vegetables, candies, cookies and dumplings. Food dyes which have provoked concern are Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 3 (erythrosine), Yellow 5 (tartrazine) and Yellow 6, while the additives are sulphites, nitrates, butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene.
6.Skip the fireworks
Toxic chemicals and heavy metals are used in the manufacture of fireworks, which also contribute to air and water pollution.
Bring our own bag when shopping, to reduce consumption of plastic bags.
8.Cook just enough
Tradition dictates that lots of food must be prepared to symbolise wealth and abundance. This, however, translates to wastage. So, don’t overcook, and turn leftovers into another dish. And don’t forget to compost the kitchen waste, including mandarin peel.
9.Don’t add to waste
If you’re having guests over, don’t give in to the convenience of disposable ware. Conventional tableware is so much classier and friendlier to the environment, too.
10.Reuse and recycle
When the festivities end, pack up all the red- and gold-coloured decorations for use again next year.