A Breath of Fresh Air: Keeping Shanghai’s Air Clean

December 27th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Features  |  1 Comment

While many were glad to see the back of the regulations that accompanied the Expo, the loosening of the government’s leash has spelt disaster for the city’s air quality. On November 1st, the day after the Expo closed, the amount of particulate matter in Shanghai’s air doubled from the figure recorded on October 31st. In December, the China Daily News reported that Shanghai was experiencing the worst air pollution readings in the past five years.

Since this is the season for goodwill and giving, Shanghai Squared decided to compile a few ideas of how to give back to Shanghai by doing your part to improve the city’s air quality.

Plant a Tree in Mongolia

The Million Tree Project is run by Shanghai Ray Ban outlet Rootsand Shoots, an environmental group founded by Jane Goodall. The project aims to plant one million trees in order to help stop desertification in Inner Mongolia and offset China’s greenhouse emissions. A donation of ¥25 is enough to have a tree planted. If you’re looking for a thoughtful gift without any postage and packing then this is it. According to the Roots and Shoots website “Planting a tree in someone’s honour is a unique, thoughtful, and environmentally friendly gift for any festive off action.” Since 2007, the project has planted over 410,000 trees. Help them in their 2010 push towards their halfway mark. Get digging here.

Ride a Bamboo Bicycle

Using a bicycle for short distance journeys in place of fuel consuming vehicles is a classic method of reducing your carbon footprint. With over 450 million bicycles already in use in China, chances are you may already be saddled up. Shanghai Bamboo Bike aims to combine the 4.21 million hectares of bamboo grown in China with the 85 million bicycles produced annually to create ecologically friendly, sustainable bicycles. The company produces a number of different styles of bike which can be tailored to your requirements with prices varying accordingly. Get peddling here.

Facilitate Recycling

In North American and Europe, recycling is regarded as an act  of moral duty. By contrast, in Shanghai it’s more to do with economics and, like the rest of the city, is driven by financial gain. Like it or not, it’s probable that someone is regularly going through your rubbish bins in search of paper, cans or bottles. Why not facilitate the system by separating your recyclables into separate bags. Also ask you Ayi if she wants to recycle your glass and keep the profit. For more on this topic check out Shanghai Scrap’s article here.

Layer-up and Close those Windows

Many public buildings in Shanghai insist on keeping their windows wide open to reduce the spread of germs. While there may be some element of sense behind this practice, it’s also extremely wasteful. Keep your windows closed avoid escaping hot air and layer up; there is no shame in wearing your jacket inside.

For children and babies, check out Wobabybasics in Jing’An. Their organic clothes are handmade by a woman’s cooperative in northeast China. It’s companies like that are challenging the connotations associated with the phrase “Made in China.” Get shopping here.


  1. Kitty says:

    December 30th, 2010at 11:44 pm(#)

    Just read this feature and loved it. I’m going to start saving for a bamboo bicycle for 2011!
    Also, I’d recommend going to check out the Eco Design fair for those who haven’t already been.



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