4 Fresh Takes on CNY for a Greener Planet

By Yuena / 9 February 2024


chinese new yearCelebrating the true meaning of prosperity with sustainability. Photo Source: Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore

  • Changing the old way of celebrating Chinese New Year with these 5 eco-friendly approaches.

Gong xi fa cai, Xin nian kuai le!

I am filled with excitement as everywhere I go, the colour red symbolises the forthcoming grand celebration – and, of course, the Angpao!

Chinese New Year is celebrated usually on a big scale, meaning there are decorations everywhere, lanterns, lion dances, fireworks, firecrackers and a whole lot amount of food. But have you guys ever wondered about all the waste after the celebration?

This year, while you unite with your loved ones around the reunion tables, spare a moment to reflect upon the impact our actions have on both ourselves and the environment. This is because the waste statistics during Chinese New Year can be rather disheartening.

To address the waste issue after the Chinese New Year celebration, here are six simple and effective ways to make it more eco-friendly for our beloved Mother Nature!


1/ Reconsider Buying New Clothes

chinese new year Pokok.AsiaOn CNY, we wear red! Photo Source: Mothership.SG

This may not be a popular opinion among the ladies, but during the Chinese New Year, it’s a common tradition to buy new clothes symbolising fresh starts and better times ahead. However, constantly purchasing clothes for every celebration can have negative consequences for the environment, especially when buying from fast fashion brands. 

I get it – we all want to wear and put on the best appearance for the big celebration that comes only once a year. However, instead of cluttering our closets with once-worn garments, why not consider more sustainable alternatives?

Instead, consider swapping or acquiring pre-loved outfits. For example, if you notice a distant cousin wearing a lovely Cheongsam during last year’s Chinese New Year and think, “Hey, that would look great on me too!” you can propose a clothes swap if your sizes are similar. Or if not, simply buy it from a pre-loved store. 

In return, any clothing items that you no longer wish to wear can be passed down to younger relatives or donated to those less fortunate. This allows you to declutter your wardrobe, save money, and perform kind acts on this special day!


2/ Send E-Angpao 

chinese new year Pokok.Asia“Ay bro, I’ll send you my QR later can ah?” Photo Source: RinggitPlus

Who doesn’t like receiving Angpao? I like Angpao, you like Angpao- everyone does. And it is significant to receive our Angpaos in bright red pockets during Chinese New Year. But what happens to those pockets after you open it and take the money out?

Well, my grandmother specifically, would recycle those envelopes to be reused for other occasions like weddings, and Hari Raya. And sometimes, she would even secretly slip some money inside for us to enjoy without our parents knowing.

But for others? We usually would throw them away, right?

Unfortunately, this leads to the creation of new cash notes and red packets every year, which consumes a significant amount of paper, plastic, and ink resources.

Instead, why not consider sending Angpaos through e-wallets? In this digital era, where we send wishes through social media and phone calls, it only makes sense to use the same method to bless people’s special moments with money.

This simple change can go a long way in reducing waste and lowering our carbon footprint. And if you still want to keep the traditional red pockets, why not opt for timeless designs without zodiac animals? That way, you can save those extra red packets for another year or special occasion, just like my wise grandmother!


3/ Share the Food to Those Around You

chinese new year Pokok.AsiaFeasting till our tummy bursts. Photo Source: Sustainability Magazine

Another thing that is loved by everyone, apart from Angpaos, is definitely food!

When it comes to big festivities, food always holds a special place in my heart. The abundance of delectable dishes, their vibrant colours, and the irresistible taste—simply amazing! And don’t you ever think that even though you can get these foods on any other ordinary day, they would not taste as good as when they are served during celebrations!

However, this abundance of food also leads to wastage – and a lot of it.

As Malaysians, we tend to go all out when it comes to food during these joyous occasions. Yet, when we find ourselves unable to consume it all, we often resort to discarding the excess. Unfortunately, this choice is detrimental to the environment.

So, while indulging in the happiness of our special festivals, let’s spread the joy and benefits by sharing food with those around us—our neighbours from different races and backgrounds, for example. 

This simple act not only helps to reduce food wastage but also fosters stronger bonds with others.


4/ Car-Pooling During Chinese New Year

chinese new year Pokok.AsiaDon’t tell me you don’t gossip while car-pooling Photo Source: Skift

Chinese New Year and other major festivities offer us the opportunity to reunite with our extended families and relatives whom we haven’t seen in ages. The cherished tradition of visiting each other’s homes for an “open house” is an absolute must, especially in Malaysia.

This evokes fond memories of my childhood when all my relatives would flock back to the countryside from the bustling city to celebrate these joyous occasions at my grandparents’ house. The sight of countless cars filling up the front yard, almost spilling onto the streets, is etched in my mind.

However, it also gets me thinking about the environmental impact caused by the surge in car usage during this season. The amount of carbon dioxide emissions released by these vehicles and the subsequent pollution it contributes to are concerning.

If we truly care about preserving Mother Nature, we should consider opting for greener alternatives like public transportation or carpooling whenever we visit our loved ones.  Besides being more eco-friendly, doesn’t it sound more enjoyable to ride with your cousins along the way?

Celebrating the New Year with Prosperity and Sustainability

As we immerse ourselves in the vibrant festivities of the 2024 Lunar New Year,, let us embrace a fresh perspective on honouring Chinese traditions by adopting eco-friendly practices. By reimagining our customs and incorporating environmentally conscious behaviours into our celebrations, we have the opportunity to pay homage to our cultural heritage while also preserving the environment for generations to come. As we delight in the richness of our cultural festivities, let us make this year a time when our joyous gatherings not only bring happiness to our families but also contribute to the well-being of our beloved Mother Nature. 

May the Year of the Dragon bring forth prosperity, sustainability, and a deeper connection to both our legacy and Mother Nature!


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