More than a billion ethnic Chinese around the world begin celebrating the Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, this Saturday.

The 15-day festival is marked by the consumption of copious amounts of food and drink, and many households take the opportunity to get rid of old possessions to make way for the new.

Besides marking the start of a brand new zodiac cycle, the coming Year of the Rat offers consumers the opportunity to begin new and less wasteful traditions that will help curb rising greenhouse gas emissions and temperatures.

Consumers also have the power to change business practices for the better, said Tylor Jong, co-founder of Treedots, a redistributor of surplus and imperfect food supplies in Asia. They could, for instance, push businesses to supply products that use sustainable farming methods, implement controls to reduce waste in the supply chain, or work with suppliers that compensate farmers and producers fairly.

“Consumers have a lot of power but they (are often not aware of) it because they think there is only so much an individual can do,” said Jong.


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