On Friday Taiwan’s government urged their public to stop burning incense sticks and ritual money to honor the dead and instead to opt for online worshipping as it fares better with Mother Earth.
The announcement by the cabinet-level Environmental Protection Administration came ahead of Monday’s Tomb Sweeping Festival, when ethnic Chinese traditionally visit the grave sites of their ancestors to burn incense and paper offerings. Such practice not only worsens the island’s air pollution but also cause fires.
The statement said:
“We can now choose to pay homage to our ancestors in a modern and environmentally friendly way by worshipping online or donating the money meant for the offerings to charities.”
Taiwan who has vowed to cut its greenhouse gases to 2008 levels by the year 2020, conducted studies which found that the burning of paper money releases a large amount of carbon dioxide, benzene, methylbenzene and ethylbenzene. These chemicals contribute to global warming and can cause cancer and other diseases.
The practice, originating in Taoism, results from the belief that burning paper money, as well as everything from paper cars to paper Viagra ensures their deceased ancestors will be comfortable in the after-life.
Environmental agencies have offered to collect the paper money from households and temples to burn in state incinerators which can treat the exhaust.