Saturday, February 24, 2007

Ecoshop System

They sure do use a lot of plastic bags here in Japan, eh?

When I first came here, I didn't know how to say "I don't need a bag", so I ended up with a bag collection that threatened to take over my whole apartment. In case some of you are in the same position, here are some expressions that might help.

fukuro wa iranai desu
I don't need a bag.

sono mama de ii desu
It's fine like that (implying that I don't need a bag).

I usually use the "it's fine" one, but some shop clerks don't get the hint (the bakery staff are THE WORST) and still try to stick me with the plastic, so I am then forced to use the more direct "I don't need a bag" one. When I first started using these expressions (a few years ago), the clerk would almost invariably start to fight with me about it. Recently, awareness of the garbage problem has become more prevalent, so I can usually get away without having to pick up my things and run out of the store while being chased by well-meaning (although not environmentally-friendly) clerks. I have, however, had some problems with people not accepting the very nice bag that I bring with me when I shop and insisting on putting a little piece of tape on everything that I buy. I don't mind that sort of thing if I am only buying one or two things, but I nearly had a fit the other day when I did a "big shop" at Gran Stage (buying about 25 items) and one of the clerks actually stood there and put little pieces of tape on EVERY SINGLE ITEM before I picked the item up and put it inside my bag and zipped up the bag. Unnecessary.

Anyway, the reason for today's post is not to talk about tape and being chased out of stores. No, today I want to tell you about the Ecoshop System and how we should all make a concerted effort to back this system.

Tsukuba City has started accrediting certain shops in the city as Ecoshops. Ecoshops are stores that are making efforts to decrease their environmental loads by engaging in activities such as...

1. Making an effort to sell products that are environmentally friendly (e.g. product that carry the "ecomark", products made from recycled materials, products sold in returnable containers).

2. Dedicating a spot in the store to ecological products.

3. Simplifying or eradicating their wrapping practices.

4. Promoting the use of shopping baskets and the customers' use of their own bags.

5. Repairing their own products.

6. Using recycled paper for their publicity.

7. Recycling empty cans.

8. Recycling empty bottles.

9. Recycling empty milk cartons.

10. Recycling produce trays.

11. Recycling plastic (PET) bottles.

12. Making other efforts to reduce the amount of garbage they produce.

As of January 2007, the following stores have been accredited as Ecoshops.

Ishimaru (Tsukuba)
Kasumi (Asse, Technopark Sakura, Gakuen, Tsukuba, Oho, Umezono, Grand Plechef, Midorino Eki Mae)
Gakuseifuku no Uchiya (Inarimae, Takezono)
Masuda (Kukizaki)
山三硝子 (I'm not sure how to read this... can anyone help?)
Uematsu Information Service

For this scheme to succeed, the public has to start modifying its behaviour by choosing to do business with stores like this, so I hope the foreign community can put its buying power behind this idea.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Good News for Pollen Allergy Sufferers in Tsukuba

The Ministry of the Environment says that the diffusion of Japanese cedar and cypress pollen in Spring 2007 in the Kanto area is likely to be around 25% of a typical year. This is very good news for people who suffer from pollen allergies (花粉症, kafunshou). The amounts are different for different parts of Japan, but in general, it seems like the problem will be mild to normal this year in most places.

Read the press release from the Ministry of the Environment.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

NPOs Devise Business Model to Revitalize Lake Kasumigaura

A business project involving ecological intervention is in progress under an agreement concluded in October 2004 by two nonprofit organizations and an agricultural company. The purpose of the project is to purify the water and preserve the ecosystem surrounding Lake Kasumigaura in Ibaraki, Japan.

Read the full article: Japan for Sustainability

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