I never really gave a rat's ass about people burning ghost money until a new neighbor moved in a few months ago. The husband and wife run a fortune-telling service which requires them to burn ghost money... every... single... day. Not just one burner either; they have three and boy do they load 'em up. They have a folding table outside their store front piled high with wads of ghost money for the day's offerings. How fortunate for our neighborhood is that?
Fili wrote a post about ghost money burning back in March. He concludes that Taiwanese "will figure out their own way of balancing traditions with environmental issues ." Or, more likely, they won't. Fili may call his way of thinking optimism: I call it wishful thinking.
And isn't it interesting how burning ghost money is always framed as a Tradition vs. Environment debate? No, it's not interesting, not even to the tiniest degree . This tradition is getting up my nose, into my lungs, and very probably trying its damndest to give me cancer. I also have a wife and two sons whose noses, lungs and general wellbeing I happen to consider more important than a "cultural activity" as well.
Maybe Taiwanese really will figure out a way, but what I want to know is when? I'm holding my breath here! In fact, we should all be holding our collective breath. The correlation between high particulate air pollution and mortality and respiratory diseases has been well established. So please stop giving me this ludicrous false duality of Tradition vs. Environment. Just stop burning that shit already!