A Tree-Hugger’s Guide to Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day 2019

By Teoh Wei Jiet

For 2019, the shortest month of the year is an especially busy one, with both the Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day falling in the first two weeks of February. According to the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation of Malaysia, we as Malaysians, generate an overwhelming average of 15 tonnes of waste per day, and that is just food on normal days. Think about how much solid waste that will amount to in just the first half of February this year.

That being said, here is a short compilation of a few ways to help you and your family to have a greener, more environmental and eco-friendly Chinese New Year (CNY) and Valentine’s Day without compromising the fun and meaning of these festivals.

As most of us already know, one of the traditions is to spring clean the house and have new clothes for CNY. Keeping the romantic day of February 14 being a mere 10 days away, it is understandable that many will choose to buy even more new clothes for both occasions. In light of this, what will happen to all the old, unwanted clothes that are still in good condition? One of the best ways to rid yourself of them is to donate to those in need. There are many societies and NGOs that you can drop your unwanted clothes, shoes and even furniture. One of the more popular ones is Community Recycle for Charity (CRC) where donated items are either given to charity homes or sold at marked-down prices, with the money collected from proceeds being used to fund charity homes and school projects.

Another issue most people face during these festive seasons is finding a place in restaurants, be it a table or parking spaces. For both CNY and Valentine’s Day, dinners are a must, and the more grand the better, or at least that’s the general idea. As a change, a good option to ponder is to have dinners at home. For CNY, having dinner at home allows for a more warm, close dinner without having to worry about finishing your meal in time for the next customer to have the table, and also without having to a prefixed menu which costs an arm and a leg. Having dinner at home also allows for a more customized meal. For example, having a full vegetarian “yee sang” is more than doable at home, without the need to drive out and face the traffic. The same can be applied to Valentine’s Day, where some would say a preparing a personalized, candle-lit dinner together at home would be more enjoyable than an extravagant night-out following the usual movie followed by the wine and dine procedure. Besides, having the electricity at a minimum with the romance raised, it is pretty much a win-win situation.

On top of that, similar to most other festivals, ‘tis the season of giving. It is often customary and polite to bring a gift basket of some sort when visiting relatives or open houses. Likewise and obviously, gifts are also a big part of Valentine’s Day. So accordingly, it is the perfect opportunity to give a gift that gives back. Shopping for gifts which carry a positive social impact will not only brighten their days, but also promote a deeper, greener underlying message. This will indubitably encourage others to follow in your green footsteps, which makes you directly an example and a promoter of a more sustainable lifestyle.

Lastly, in accordance to visitations, there are few better ways to minimize pollution than to carpool. Greenhouse gas emissions can be significantly reduced through carpooling, which directly improves air quality and reducing the number of diseases linked to air pollution caused by vehicular travel; which includes respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases and allergies. Furthermore, carpooling is certainly a more convenient way of travel while reducing travel costs at the same time.

 There are many more ways and things that one can do to improve their CNY and Valentine’s Day experience by taking the greener path. Collectively, if we do our part as individuals and take the initiative to make these minor changes for only 2 weeks, picture the impact it would have if we continued practicing these habits for the rest of the year and the years to come. Changing our habits and lifestyle does not necessarily make life easier, but changes for the better rarely comes easily. Happy Valentine’s Day and Gong Xi Fa Cai!

 
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Image source: Google Image

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