Chinese consumption goes greener

An employee pastes a poster advocating the “clean your plate” campaign at a restaurant in Tianshan district, Urumqi, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Sept. 16. Photo by Zhang Xiuke, People’s Daily Online

As China continues enhancing its environmental protection efforts, the Chinese people are enjoying greener ways of consumption.

“We trained our employees to guide the customers to order food in accordance with their actual appetite, and we also encourage the customers to wrap up the leftovers,” Zhou Yu, vice general manager of a restaurant in southwest China’s Chongqing municipality told Luo Xiaoju, an official with the commercial commission of Chongqing’s Jiangjin district, who was surveying the operation of local catering industry.

Zhou told Luo that the restaurant was about to offer dishes in smaller and half size, and the price would also be adjusted accordingly.

Yan Yunneng, who runs a restaurant in Jiangjin district, said at least a can of kitchen waste was generated per day, but now the volume is halved as most diners can finish all their food.

“We used to order as much as possible when we treat friends to meals to show our generosity, but now it’s the other way around as we must clear our plates,” said Gong Nanying who lives in Jiangjin district.

Apart from dining, the Chinese people are also buying greener vehicles.

When Zhou Enchao, a man from Zhengzhou, central China’s Henan province, planned to buy a new car a year ago, his friend recommended him new energy vehicles (NEVs), saying NEVs are environmentally friendly and free from road restriction policies. This was appealing to Zhou, who always drives to work. “Sometimes my gas-fueled car was not allowed to go on the road due to the restriction, especially when I needed to drive to meet my clients,” he told People’s Daily.

Later, Zhou learned from a local car dealer that NEVs are free from vehicle purchase tax, which might save him at least over 10,000 yuan ($1,518). Besides, he could also enjoy a 12,000-yuan auto replacement subsidy. The government would offer an extra of 5,000 yuan if his car being replaced was produced locally in Zhengzhou.

The car dealer told Zhou that the energy consumption of NEVs was extremely low, compared to average small engine vehicles that generally cost half yuan per kilometer.

“We also offer free charging poles and installation, and this service saves you 6,000 yuan. The government also requires new residential complexes and malls to be equipped with certain amount of charging poles, so charging won’t be a problem when you go out dining or shopping,” the car dealer said. The batteries had lifetime guarantee, and the replacement was free, it added.

Seeing all the benefits, Zhou and his wife decided to buy an NEV. Now, the man is very satisfied with his new vehicle after 10 months of driving, saying it was a good deal as he enjoyed a large amount of subsidies, and the car was economical and environmentally friendly.

The green concept is now infiltrating into every part of Chinese consumers. When comparing jeans on an online shopping site, Ye Min, a woman who works for an internet company in Shanghai, resolutely selected a pair produced with environmentally friendly methods. The jeans’ production adopted a professional closed system able to recycle 98 percent of water, and the jeans were dried with recycled hot air. The sludge waste generated during the making of the denim cloth was also used to fabricate bricks.

Renewability and recycling are important for Ye when she selects commodities. “I have friends and colleagues that share the same mentality with me. Sixty percent of this blouse was made by regenerated cotton, and this bag was made out of four plastic bottles,” she told People’s Daily, pointing to the stuffs she carried made by environmentally friendly materials.

Environmental protection calls for efforts from everyone, and will change the lifestyles of generations. Only the change of habits and the ways of consumption can make environmental protection a red line that shall never be crossed, and thus enhance people’s awareness for green lifestyles.

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