With Chinese New Year coming up later this week, on Feb. 16, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate. This centuries-old festival lasts weeks and is observed by more than 1 billion people worldwide. It’s a time for honoring deities, cherishing family and ushering in new beginnings. Chinese New Year celebrations are often met with firecrackers — an old tradition to drive away evil spirits — and paper sky lanterns. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help China’s pollution issues.
Instead of partaking in these eco-unfriendly traditions, put your own green spin on this month’s holiday. Here are some ideas:
Make DIY Décor
Red is the official color of Chinese New Year. It represents luck and good fortune, which makes perfect sense for ringing in the new year. Chinese often decorate their homes, including doors, and streets with red paper. Follow their lead with recycled red paper or cloth!
Tea is essential in Chinese culture. It is consumed on both formal and casual occasions, as well as used for medicinal purposes. Chinese family gatherings are often centered around a hot pot of tea, and serving a cup to your elders is a sign of respect. Grab your kettle and get to brewing! China sips on a multitude of tea varieties. The long list includes oolong, jasmine, white and green tea.
Ring the Bells
If the roaring bang of firecrackers can ward off evil spirits, so can a vigorous bell-ringing. In fact, the bell is the traditional symbol of Chinese New Year, and many believe its ringing drives away bad luck. What better way to (literally) ring in the new year?
The Chinese traditionally used animals to date the years, which repeat every 12 years. For example, last year was the Year of the Rooster, and 2018 is the Year of the Dog. Across China, dogs, plus people born in a Chinese zodiac dog year, will be honored for their honest and loyal nature. If you have pet dogs, celebrate them by taking them for an extra-long walk, pampering them with grooming or treating them to a bone. This is an excellent opportunity to head out into nature for a beautiful hike with your furry friend. Just make sure you’re following our green dog owner’s guide.
Clean the House
It’s customary to thoroughly clean dwellings before New Year in Chinese culture. It’s referred to as “sweeping the dust” and symbolizes a fresh start. Most of the household cleaning products we all grew up with are petroleum-based and hazardous to human and environmental health. Opt for greener cleaning solutions this Chinese New Year — did you know you can clean your whole house with vinegar, baking soda and lemon?
Also consider recycling any unwanted items you find while decluttering. Head over to our recycling locator to find a recycling center near you.
Cook Chinese Cuisine
Celebrate New Year’s Eve on Feb. 15 like the Chinese and throw a family feast complete with a mountain of dumplings. Legend has it, the more dumplings you eat during the New Year celebration, the more money you’ll make in the coming year. If you have a locally sourced Asian restaurant in your community, by all means, support a local business and order from them! If not, though, you probably have all the ingredients to make basic dumplings in your pantry already. This recipe calls for flour, baking powder, salt and milk. Spring rolls are another popular Chinese New Year dish. Head to your local natural grocer for fresh veggies and organic spring roll wrappers. Snag some rice wine and you’re set for a lively Chinese New Year bash with friends and family.