The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics worked hard towards a sustainable Japan, creating a more eco-friendly event. The games have been powered by electricity from 100% renewable energy, the Olympic Village beds are made from recyclable cardboard, the medals made out of recycled phones and laptops, podiums made from recycled shampoo bottles, and with some athletes such as Japan’s skateboarding team wearing uniforms designed from 100% recycled polyester. If this has inspired you to work towards a more zero waste and sustainable lifestyle, please read on for our tips!
1. Buying seasonally and locally
Japan is great for promoting local produce. A lot of supermarkets have sections dedicated to locally grown fruit and vegetables since there are so many farms spread across Japan.
Buying locally grown produce cuts out the shipping process, which can be taxing on the environment, and helps create a more sustainable society, a lot of the locally grown produce is also organic which means it will be rich in nutrients and will probably taste much nicer too!
Many places in Japan also encourage seasonal eating and buying produce that is in season. Not only is this a more eco-friendly way to consume food, but it will also help you save money, the organic produce is cheaper to grow so it usually sells for a lower price when in season. When produce naturally ripens in the sun it is also believed to have a higher nutritional value.
It’s also worth looking to see if any companies or farms near you offer a vegetable box. This is a great way to support local farmers, whilst being able to eat seasonal organic food.
2. Organic Food Shops
Organic food shops are great for ethical shopping, and they are often working hard towards a zero-waste goal. It’s a great place to buy fresh produce and there will often be no packaging, so make sure to bring a reusable bag with you! Other products will be in minimal packaging or more eco-friendly packaging.
Zero waste shops are becoming more popular all across the World and Japan is no exception, with a zero-waste shop in Kyoto.
These shops can be more expensive though since it’s generally better quality and it can cost producers more money to create sustainable products. Buying seasonal food will help offset the price as well as looking for reduced items.
3. Shop Second-Hand
Buying clothing, household items, and other products second-hand means that you’re extending their life. You are helping to prevent these products from going to waste, whilst not contributing to the continuous chain of demand for fast fashion and products made with unsustainable practices, helping create a more sustainable society.
There are so many wonderful second-hand shops in Japan, the two biggest chains are Second Street and of Off-group (Off House, Book Off, Hard Off, Mode Off), however, there are plenty of other second-hand shops too. Have a look in your local second-hand shops before buying something new, if it’s available in a second-hand shop it will likely save you money as well as help you be more eco-friendly. It’s worth noting that second-hand items in Japan are often in impeccable condition, with minimal, if any signs of use and wear.
If your trips to the local second-hand shops aren’t fruitful you can look online for second-hand products. Mercari is a popular website where people sell second-hand items as well as Mottainai and Sayonara Sales on Facebook.
If you have products that you no longer use (clothes, appliances, furniture) that someone else might make better use of, consider taking them to a second-hand shop, it will help you work towards a more zero waste lifestyle and you might get some money from it too.
4. Shopping in bulk
Buying food in bulk can be more eco-friendly since bulk products usually use less packaging. Consider buying the bigger sack of rice, large shampoo bottles (or refillable ones), and other products that will help lower the use of plastics. Some Natural Lawson stores offer bulk refill stations for toiletries.
5. Zero waste Daiso eco bag
Japan has a reputation for its love of plastic, especially plastic packaging and individually wrapped products. This comes from a place of care and commitment to customer satisfaction and immaculate cleanliness but results in a lot of excess plastic use.
Now that the laws have changed in Japan, you need to pay extra for a plastic bag it’s become easier to avoid them, and has been a great step in working towards a more sustainable Japan. Large companies are making alternatives to single-use plastic bags, for example, the Daiso eco bag.
If you’re not sure how to avoid being given plastic bags whilst out shopping, memorize the phrase “Reji bukuro wa iranai desu”, meaning I don’t need a plastic back. Iranai desu (I don’t need) is the phrase to remember, you can use it when being handed disposable cutlery, wipes, and any other products that you don’t need.
The Daiso eco bag (or any reusable bag for that matter) will reduce your need for plastic bags. Investing in the Daiso eco bag and keeping a few of them in your car or a bag you use every day
The Daiso eco bag is a popular choice since they are low cost and easy to keep on you (foldable). There are plenty of other eco-friendly options made from recycled materials, such as the Kind Bag, available at Tokyu Hands, which is made from recycled plastic bottles.
Hopefully, some of these tips can help you work towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It’s important to remember that different things work for different people and there are many more ways we can contribute to a more sustainable World; growing your own produce, eating more vegetarian dishes and cutting down on beef consumption, reducing our carbon footprint by traveling by foot, bicycle and public transport, keeping the energy and water bills cheap at home – there’s a lot!
Check out our post on 4 Easy Changes to Have a More Eco-Friendly Kitchen for more ideas on how to be more sustainable.