Sky Lanterns – Cleaning Up After the Festival

Taiwan’s Sky Lanterns Festival in Shifen

The Hope

The Lantern Festival in Taiwan has just come to a close. A visually stunning week of lantern creations celebrating the Year of the Pig spanned across Taiwan. This week is the time when tourists and locals flock to Shifen and Pingxi to light off their wishes of good fortune and luck in the form of sky lanterns. Many tourists don’t realize, the only thing they are releasing in to the heavens is an environmental disaster.


The Reality

Every minute hundreds of sky lanterns dot the sky above, and every minute hundreds of sky lanterns crash and burn in the river, mountains, and trees below, usually not flying more that a few hundred meters from the release point. On Saturday the 23rd of February, the TAO community was out in full force to gather the charred remains of people’s wishes for good health, money, etc, from the trees and rivers below.


As we hiked into the mountains, along the train tracks, down to the river and in farm lands to collect hundreds of kilograms of sky lanterns. Overall, our group collected 326.15 kg in just 2 hours! It is not an easy effort, as the sky lanterns continue to rain down, hundreds for every 10 we collect. Unfortunately, the only plausible way to fully clean up the garbage is to mow down the forest. That can’t happen. What can happen is change to the Lantern Festival, and to those who promote, support, and take part in it.

The Lantern Festival, and sky lanterns in particular, should be seen as an environmental emergency. What used to be a borrowed tradition, is now exploited. There are thousands of sky lanterns per day are released, 365 days a year. As we know, what goes up must come down.



As always, we want to give a HUGE thank you to our amazing volunteers. This clean up in particular can be frustrating, as there seems to be no end in sight while cleaning. Our volunteers continued to do their part throughout the day, incredibly collecting over 326kg worth of sky lanterns. Without you, these events would not be possible. If you would like to join our next event, you can sign up on our Facebook page. If you would like to take part as a company or school, please get in touch with us! 




Say NO to lighting Sky Lanterns on your holiday to Taiwan. The tourist activity of lighting and flying sky lanterns might look cool for Instagram, but it is an environmental disaster. In other words, your wishes and dreams do not fly off to become true, because they crash down to the rivers and forests around the mountains. We are only able to access a minimal amount relative to the hundreds of thousands left to trash the environment around us. 

Please consider this before taking part in this activity.