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Lunar New Year goes green with fewer fireworks

By Xinhua | China Daily | Updated: 2013-02-16 08:11

Lunar New Year goes green with fewer fireworks

A vendor awaits customers at a fireworks stall in Beijing's Chaoyang district on Wednesday. The number of fireworks and firecrackers being set off in the capital during Spring Festival this year has dropped significantly due to concerns over air pollution. Wang Jing / China Daily

In contrast with typical Lunar New Year celebrations that feature huge 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.

He put up a notice in his residential community in Jinan, capital of Shandong province, calling on residents to set off fewer fireworks during this year's Spring Festival holiday, which began on Feb 10.

People have been increasingly 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 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. Internet users and celebrities have been championing the benefits of setting off fewer fireworks and eating less.

"Zhenzhutouzhunao" wrote on Sina Weibo, the popular micro-blogging platform: "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."

An annual holiday fireworks show in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, was scrapped this year to reduce air pollution and cut government spending. The show cost 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) to put on last year.

Sales of fireworks in Beijing have dropped significantly, with 313,000 cartons sold from last Saturday, Lunar New Year's Eve, to Thursday, down 45 percent from the 564,000 cartons sold during the same period last year, according to statistics from the Beijing municipal government on Friday.

A total of 165 people were injured due to fireworks being set off during the same period, down 22 percent from the previous year, it said. No deaths were reported.

The drop in fireworks sales has been attributed to people's rising awareness of environmental protection as the city was shrouded in smog for long periods last month.

Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun visited a firefighting command center on Thursday and expressed his gratitude to residents who did not set off fireworks or reduced the amount of fireworks during the holiday.

The capital allows fireworks within the fifth ring road from 7 am to midnight every day until Feb 24, or the Lantern Festival.

The government has sent the city's residents text messages reminding them to set off fewer fireworks this year and also issued a "fireworks index" that indicates whether outdoor conditions are suitable for fireworks.

The city suffered from smog on Wednesday. The government said when the weather authority issues a red alert on haze, or the environmental protection department forecasts serious pollution, it hoped residents would stop setting off fireworks.

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