The Japanese are on the forefront of creating new technology, always coming out with new and crazy gagets, not to mention cars. This, some might argue, only gives way to consumerism and gluttony for CO2. The facts remain though, that we in the US are the true consumers, generating twice as much CO2 as the average Japanese. Yet still, Japan is doing more to curb their increasing CO2 emissions than we are. NPR has been featuring Japan pretty frequently lately in their Climate Connections series. Here is a bit on some of the conservation ninjaism going on over in Japan:
Being Green at Home
One Japanese couple goes a bit further than most in conserving energy.
Motoyuki Shibata isn’t a typical Japanese.
He and his wife, Hitomi, don’t own a car. They have a solar panel on the roof. They collect rainwater in an old whiskey barrel to water the plants, and they don’t use dish soap.
Shibata’s biggest luxury is a wooden Japanese soaking tub, which he built himself. He sits in the tub after he has thoroughly scrubbed himself. After the soak, the bathwater is recycled â€” and reused for washing clothes. The process is facilitated by a simple hookup.
Shibata guesses that about 5 percent of Japanese use a pump to send water from their bathtubs into washing machines.
After the clothes are washed, Shibata does what most Japanese do: He dries his wash on an outdoor clothesline. Most Japanese don’t own clothes dryers. Their clothing hangs on television-antennae-like racks that twirl around on their railings.
“You get to see lots of clothes hanging. â€¦ Don’t see that in America,” Shibata says. “Space is very valuable here. If you can do without something, you do without it.”
Minimalism Gives Way to Consumerism
That issue of space is what separates Japanese lifestyles from American. Japanese live in a small country. Americans do not. Japanese, in general, have lived in close quarters for centuries, while Americans have not.
Japanese traditions celebrate the minimal, the spare and the efficient. Their rituals have helped them save energy. For example, minimalism lives in haiku, the bonzai tree and the 600-year-old tea ceremony.
Masako Konishi admires the minimalism in the tea ceremony. Wearing a creamy white kimono, she goes through the ceremony’s rituals. The room contains few things to admire â€” a tatami mat, a small painting or a single flower in a vase.
“In the tea ceremony room â€¦ there is no enemy or opposition,” Konishi says. “It really is about stripping, getting to the essence.”
Konishi also works on climate change at the World Wildlife Fund, and she says she is sad that minimalism is giving way to consumerism.
Read the rest of the article at NPR Climate Connections.