08 Feb, 2021 12:28 AM / by Cherie Poon
The Lunar New Year is undoubtedly a time to usher in prosperity and auspiciousness, but it also invites an ugly contribution to excessive waste— in particular, plastic waste. Here, we have consolidated a few simple tips that you can consider for a more green and sustainable Chinese New Year (CNY) celebration!
1. Reuse your plastic or cloth bags as shopping bags
Undeniably, CNY celebrations bear witness to increased shopping. A study in 2018 revealed that Singapore produces a whopping average of 820 million plastic bags each year just from supermarkets alone. A simple way to combat this is to bring along your own shopping bag when you’re out. It’s time to dig out the reusable shopping bags lying around at home or simply reuse old plastic bags.
Pro tip: Hang your shopping bag near your keys so you remember to bring them along when you leave the house!
2. Explore packaging-free, zero-waste grocery stores
Single-use plastic has become a mainstay in today’s world of packaging, forming more than half of our domestic packaging waste. This waste stream is enhanced during CNY, with our bags and boxes to store fresh produce, or wrapping for CNY hampers. A more sustainable solution involves exploring grocery stores such as Unpackt, Scoop Whole Foods, and The Source Bulk Foods. These store concepts allow you to bring your own container to purchase goods by weight. Supermarkets like Giant have also collaborated with Allison’s Pantry, setting up pop-up stations with scoop bins for dried snacks like nuts and raisins— perfect for CNY snacks. You not only save on plastic packaging, you can potentially eliminate food waste as well!
Pro tip: Visit their online store to check if the goods you want are in stock before you head down. This way, you know exactly which containers to bring.
3. Give your snack containers a second life
What is CNY without our buttery pineapple tarts, savoury hae bee hiam rolls and melt-in-your-mouth keuh bangkits? This sinful gastronomical affair is something most of us look forward to each year, coupled with the iconic red-lid containers that these snacks often come packaged in. If your local store does not sell snacks packaging-free, what you can do is to reuse these containers even after the festivities end. These containers can be used to store biscuits and tea bags, act as utensil holders, or even used to purchase goods from zero-waste stores! With these practices, you can effectively extend the lifespan of these sturdy containers.
Pro-tip: Visit Project beECOme to look for bakeries that allow you to return their cookie jars.
4. Reduce single-use plastic cutlery during home visitations
Visitations not only mean feeding multiple mouths, but also cleaning up after them. It is easy to opt for single-use plastic cutlery— after all, who wants to labour over washing dishes when the holidays are meant to be a source of respite? However, convenience comes at a detrimental environmental cost, even if you opt for more eco-friendly options. Using your own cutlery would certainly save on a lot of plastic waste. We understand it may be daunting to get started so there is no shame in taking a blended approach. You can use plastic plates with reusable cutlery, or vice versa. By doing this, you’ll be able to reduce your plastic footprint and that’s progress.
Pro-tip: Bring your own reusable cutlery if you are the one visiting other households.
5. Recycle Right
When reducing and reusing options have been maximised, the next best thing you can do before disposal is to recycle your plastic waste. This means taking the time to sort your trash and to wash plastics contaminated with food before placing them in recycling bins. You could set up different trash bags when you have visitors over so they can help with the sorting too.
Pro-tip: While some plastics are currently impossible to recycle, new technologies such as pyrolysis could step in to fill that gap. Get in touch to find out more.
By collectively putting in a little extra effort, we would be able to usher in the Lunar New Year while giving our waste a new lease of life.
Written by Cherie Poon