Lunar New Year goes green
Updated: 2013-02-14 16:37
BEIJING - In contrast with typical Lunar New Year celebrations that feature massive quantities of fireworks, Zhang Zhengwei and his family have yet to set off a single firecracker.
"We all suffered from last month's filthy smog. If we don't call an end to the fireworks, the environment will be worsened during the holiday," said Zhang, who put up a notice in his residential community in Jinan, capital of east China's Shandong Province, that calls on residents to set off fewer fireworks during this year's Spring Festival holiday, which began on February 10.
More Chinese are looking to celebrate the holiday in a more environmentally sound fashion, setting off fewer fireworks and reducing food waste during family meals.
The holiday is traditionally celebrated with large amounts of fireworks, as Chinese custom dictates that the loud noise and fire they create can ward off evil spirits. The tradition of eating large dinners is intended to showcase a family's affluence.
But green holiday initiatives proposed by people like Zhang have become more popular. Netizens and celebrities have been championing the benefits of setting off fewer fireworks and eating less online.
"My family didn't buy any fireworks this year. Instead, we donated the money we saved to malnourished children. It's good for the environment and charity as well," Internet user "Zhenzhutouzhunao" wrote on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
Sales of fireworks in Beijing have dropped significantly, with 260,000 cartons of fireworks sold from February 5 to 9, down 37 percent from the 410,000 cartons sold during the same period last year, according to the Beijing municipal government.
Government officials are also seizing the opportunity to promote environmentally friendly behavior. The Beijing municipal government has sent the city's residents text messages reminding them to set off less fireworks this year.
The municipal government has also issued a "fireworks index" that indicates whether outdoor conditions are suitable for fireworks.
An annual holiday fireworks show in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, was halted this year in order to reduce air pollution and cut government expenditures. The show cost 10 million yuan (1.6 million U.S. dollars) to put on last year.
On February 9, or Lunar New Year's Eve, fireworks injured 25 people and triggered 83 fire-related emergencies, down 28.6 percent and 44.6 percent, respectively, from the same period last year, according to a statement from the Beijing Office on Fireworks and Firecrackers.
A sharp decrease in the amount of firecrackers and fireworks set off in Beijing on Lunar New Year's Eve was also seen. Sanitation workers collected 1,586 tonnes of firework refuse that night, a drop of 18 percent from the same night in 2012.
"The lingering smog that engulfed most Chinese cities last month has boosted the public's environmental awareness, resulting in a trend towards green festival celebrations," said Feng Kun, an official from the Beijing Municipal Commission of City Administration and Environment.