The Chinese New Year is celebrated Jan. 31 this year, launching the Year of the Wooden or Green Horse. 


Jan. 27, 2014

By Rita Cook 

The Chinese New Year is approaching Jan. 31, and as it’s the year of the Green Horse, there has never been a better time to trot in eco-friendly elements in your home or office to entice good fortune.   

Judy Schaffer of JSO Commercial Interiors is a Dallas-based interior designer who not only promotes green decorating but has training in the Chinese art of Feng Shui. She says in addition to the 12 animal signs, the five elements -- metal, water, wood, fire and earth -- also rotate in Chinese Astrology. This year’s element is wood, thus its “green” designation.

Schaffer incorporates her knowledge of the Chinese art of placement along with a bevy of green aspects into her own interior design creations.

“We advise clients to use natural products plus avoid toxins, be it paint, bedding or cooking equipment,” she explains. “By repurposing existing items we can eliminate landfill. By using sustainable resources we can avoid depleting the planet.”

Feng Shui design theory is in sync with sustainability as it promotes balance and harmony with nature. 

Right, No-VOC paint. Courtesy of Green Living.
Below, Bamboo flooring courtesy of Mother Earth News. 

"Most people arrange their homes 70 percent right, intuitively because it just feels good," she said. “By using green elements such as bamboo flooring or fresh flowers, the ‘chi’ or life force of the home is more vibrant too." 

Schaffer says that in regard to the upcoming Chinese New Year celebration, as with other holidays, it’s a time for families to reunite, share meals and honor ancestors. 

“There are dragon dancing events, firecrackers. Decorations in red and green and lanterns bring good fortune as well as fresh flowers and oranges.” 

Other traditions include hiding coins in dumplings, partaking of nuts for prosperity and noodles for a long life. Children are given red envelopes for luck as well. 

Right, Solar-powered green lantern.
Courtesy of
Below, Earth Friendly citrus cleaner.

Preparation for the celebrations begins weeks in advance as folks clean their homes thoroughly and sweep out the old year.

“A mix of five citrus fruits is used to clean doorways, windowsills or any other entrances to the home,” Schaffer explains. “Sweeping away of bad is making room for new luck to enter [the home]. It is considered bad luck to sweep dirt out the front door after the 31st as it will sweep away luck for the year.”

With all of the good luck with the Year of Green Horse, along with proper design and eco-friendly elements, it looks like 2014 is going to be a winner. 

 Rita Cook is an award-winning journalist who writes or has written for the Dallas Morning News, Focus Daily News, Waxahachie Daily Light, Dreamscapes Travel Magazine, Porthole, Core Media, Fort Worth Star Telegram and many other publications in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. With five books published, her latest release is “A Brief History of Fort Worth” published by History Press. Contact her at

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