It is important and urgent to increase awareness among Singaporeans on the use of recycled paper and paper that has been certified by non-governmental organisation Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), whose mission is to promote environmentally sound, socially beneficial and economically prosperous management of the world's forests.
Among the handful of local printers I called specialising in hongbao paper printing, most do not offer the option of using recycled or FSC-certified paper to print hongbao.
In fact, they sounded quite surprised and curious at my query.
Only one printer was willing to offer a quote on the production of hongbao packets using recycled or FSC-certified paper, saying that it was not a common request in Singapore and, thus, the service is not usually provided.
We appeal to companies to consider carefully if they must print hongbao packets as a corporate gift and if they have to, to put in a conscious effort to request that printers use recycled or FSC-certified paper to print the hongbao packets.
Other ways of saving paper are asking for slot-in hongbao packets instead of glue-on ones, and choosing general designs without any Chinese zodiac animal so that they can be reused in any other year. We are not asking for a change in culture or traditions, and Chinese children should still look forward to receiving their hongbao.
It is the awareness that we hope to inculcate, that every small effort counts.
As individuals, for example, instead of throwing the opened hongbao packets into general waste, we could try throwing them into paper recycling bins.
Ultimately, we breathe what we buy.
Emily Leck Soh Teng (Mrs)
People's Movement to Stop Haze