1. Shikoku Environment Partnership Commendation
On March 5th, Shikoku Environmental Partnership Commendation was held for the first time, and organizations and groups that actively conducted ESD and environmental partnership activities were nominated, and awarded regardless of nominated by themselves or by others.
After the greetings and the statement of the gist, the students of Niihama Minami High School made a presentation titled “ESD Akagane Project at Besshi Dozan Copper Mine: Passing the Knowledge of Predecessors who Fought to Preserve the Environment”. The basic idea was “history knows the sustained secrets”. The students were the main actors to collaborate with other sectors to learn the local history and culture to nurture “civic pride” (love and pride for their own community).
At the award ceremony, eight groups in total (one prize in each division to each prefecture) won prizes. The director Ueda, Takamatsu Office of the Ministry of Environment handed over the prizes. (The list of award winners is shown below.)
【Division of forests, villages, rivers and seas】
Satoumi Project, Seto Inland Sea, Kagawa
Network for Conservation of Biological Diversity in Shikoku
Monobegawa River 21st Century Mori-to-Mizu no Kai
【Division of ESD Environmental Education】
National Institute of Technology, Anan College, Recyclable Energy Club
Zentsuji Kodomo Eco Club
Niihama Minami High School UNESCO Club
Kami-City Kodomo Eco Club
2. Tosakko Town, Winning Grand Prize at 8th Collaborative Community Building Award
Municipalities Fair 2016 (hosted by Nippon Omni-Management Association) was held in Tokyo in May. Among many programs, one was giving awards to excellent collaborative projects by municipalities and local people which made the community more attractive. This year, at the 8th Collaborative Community Building Award ceremony, a virtual town called “Tosakko-Town” won the grand prize. This was the highest prize and Tosakko Town was the first receiver in Shikoku region.
The program started in 2009 by the Tosakko-Town Committee collaborated with high school students, university students, grownups and Kocih-City, Kochi-City Foundation for Cultural Activity and other organizations. They planned and organized the event, and NPO Kochi Shiminkaigi acted as the office. For two days during every summer vacation, children came to the Culture- Plaza in Kochi. Some worked as florists, cartoonists, or worked for a bank, TV company, fire department, cleaning department, supermarket, café, etc. to experience their jobs, earned money, and paid taxes, or spent what they earned for games or whatever they liked. Some started their own businesses. If the children wanted to study, they went to “Tosakko School” to learn archaeology, environmental studies, or Japanese culture. Children who wanted to join the government stood in the elections for the mayor or assembly members. When they were elected, they could change the rules of the town just like the real society.
Children from 4th grade of primary school to 3rd year students of junior high school participated in this virtual town. Almost half of them were repeat participants, who deepened what they had experienced in the previous years. The supporters were high school students and university students. The professional jobs were supported by the specialists of the jobs. Recently, the graduates of the Tosakko Town joined the committee members and supporters, so not only the participants but also the supporters and the office organizers supported and learned from each other.
The committee was divided into 6 smaller units according to the topics. In each unit, members discussed more concrete and detailed matters, and the general committee arranged the whole event. The unit had their specialists to solve problems and improve situations, which was reciprocally good for “nurture the human resources for community building” and the event itself. This was one of the reasons for the grand prize prize. We will watch closely the participants and supporters, and their further activities.
※ Municipalities Fair, the biggest event in Japan to introduce challenges and activities by the government and municipalities, is held from May 18th to 20th at Tokyo Big Sight. The award ceremony is held on 19th. The awarded projects are displayed during the event.
Municipality: Kochi-City, Kochi Prefecture
Collaborated organizations: NPO Kochi Shiminkaigi, Kochi-City Foundation for Cultural Activity
3. 3S Activities Lead to Ecology
Today most companies are doing various efforts including reducing costs, avoiding or reducing the damages by natural disasters, applying 3S or 5S or conducting CSR activities. But they hardly revise their activities from different aspects. This time, I am going to show how 3S activities lead to ecological activities.
I visited a distribution center of Fujiya Co. in Aizumi-Cho, Tokushima Prefecture. Fujiya runs barbeque restaurants and Japanese restaurants throughout Tokushima Prefecture. Their main job is to distribute the right materials at the right volume to the right restaurants. If you do them wrong, the restaurants will be in trouble, so you have to be very careful to do them right. The staff of the company came up with a very unique and interesting way to do their job.
For example, this cardboard box called “Ms. Kirimi-chan” for sliced squid. It looks like an ordinary cardboard box, but the height and the strength of the box is perfect as a divider to deliver on the day. When they started using this divider, they reduced wrong picking dramatically.
Another example is the number plate called “Mr. NumberPlate” for inventory clearance. They are just the bottle-sized rings with the numbers. The staffs place the items on the number according to the order. The number of stock is instantly shown.
They also changed the lighting system to LED, removed the top shelves and replaced them with transparent film to brighten the workplace, to improve their working environment.
As the result, they reduced the wrong delivery, unwanted stocks, waste, workload for the staffs, and even the utility bills. 3S activities led to the environmental preservation activities.
People tend to think that the corporate activities cannot be compatible with the environmental preservation activities, but we can do so many ordinary corporate activities to help the environment.
4. Challenge to the World Champion of “Flow-n-Scoop Somen Noodle”
You must have heard that the treatment of bamboo forests is one of the difficult issues when you work for the environmental problems. In our traditional life, bamboo was useful materials such as baskets and strainers for the food and other daily items. Bamboo at the time were used every day and recycled.
When plastic materials were introduced, bamboo baskets and strainers gradually disappeared, and bamboo became unwanted materials which grew enormously fast.
But however the world became, some people still love bamboo and they still want bamboo products. Besides, bamboo products are highly valued as traditional arts and crafts, but also bamboo is good for the environment. So bamboo lovers want it back to the center stage in our lives.
Incidentally, I went to interview the challengers who want to become the world champion of somen-nagashi, or the “Flow-n-scoop somen-noodle”. It is a fun way of eating noodles in summer. People make somen-noodle flow along a route made with bamboo with running water, and other people scoop the noodle along the route to eat them. At the gym of Kamiyama Primary School, now abolished, in Miki-Cho, Kagawa Prefecture, scores of local people were trying to become world champions.
They cut the bamboos from the local bamboo forests, and cut them into half to remove the joints to make the smooth route to flow noodle. Not just the grownups but also small children can do the work in cozy atmosphere.
They were trying to connect pieces of bamboo to make a 4,000-meter route from Mt. Kosen along the road, and they had to make for the noodle to flow smoothly. It seemed an extremely hard task, but they worked little by little every week to make it happen. They will try that in September 2016. When they succeed, they will register in the Guinness Book of World Records.
As the big day approached, more and more people came to support their activity, and their preparation works were accelerated. If you are interested, why don’t you visit the gym to help them on the weekend?
Incidentally, the similar challenge was going on in Yawatahama, Ehime Prefecture. Pay attention to the local challenges, and each somen-nagashi may connect the recycle activities of bamboos in the future.
5. Stork and Grus Monacha Forum
Artificially raised storks, released in Toyooka, Hyogo Prefecture, started building their nests in Naruto, Tokushima Prefecture, when the media introduced such an incident, we also heard that Grus Monacha flew into Shikoku from Russia.
Both were endangered species, and we never knew why they flew to Shikoku. The forum was held in July 2016, when we still didn’t know the reasons.
After the professional lectures of their life and habits, a panel discussion was held by academics and local farmers. Although there were so many mysteries about why storks chose Shikoku for their homes or why more and more Grus Monacha flew to Shikoku, which we have to see them for a longer period of time, probably they could find and catch their food by themselves relatively easily, which means Shikoku still has rich a natural environment, some said.
Indeed, storks built their nests beside lotus fields in Naruto, and Grus monacha stayed in sandbars along the Naka River beside rice paddies.
Wild birds must have the instinct to choose their home in a safe area. If we find the criteria and make them visible, it can be a great measure when we develop our land and make a step forward to environmental protection. We will check further reports.
6. Science-Survival Summer Camp in 2016
When it comes to summer events, you can think of outdoor camp. In Tokushima Prefecture, an unusual camp called “Survience is held. The word is mixed with “survival” and “science” organized by Tokushima Eco-Camp committee.
What do you think is unusual? The purpose of the camp is to open up the independent minds and attitudes of children, and the organizers do not prepare the detailed of the programs. The program looks simple. It is hard for the outsiders to guess what it is.
I went to interview on the second day of the 3-night-4-day camp. The plan was “rafting”, “eco program”, “free program”, “night program”. That was all.
The children were divided into the morning group and the afternoon group. One went to rafting, and the other went to eco program, the latter was organized by Nachiko Tsukawa, Tokushima Environmental Councilor. But there were some children who did not join either group. They joined the “free programs” to make some sweets or to play with balls.
According to the President Suzuka, “as long as the activity is not life-threatening, when the child plans him- or herself, we will let them do it. We also let them decide if they join our plans or not.”
I wrote the program looked simple, but it did not mean that they did not make any plans. Actually they prepared well in advance. But they are not sure if their plans are attractive enough for children or not. Some of the plans were never done. Sometimes, children proposed what they wanted to do. The organizer respects the children’ wills to plan their activities by themselves.
If that is the case, the staff has to be flexible and they have to be ready for unexpected activities. But they seemed relaxed. President Suzuka said something very impressive.
“We value the morning meeting. If we do the morning meeting properly, we can survive the day ‘freely’, but if the meeting was not good enough, we will spoil the whole day.”
They told a certain framework in advance such as being punctual, and led the children think and move by themselves. Here the staffs learn how to organize the meeting, and the children learn how to observe the rules to get freedom.
Another purpose of this camp was to nurture human resources. During the camp where children’s minds are opened, the staffs focus on “to support the children’s hearts”. The staffs will be the leaders of the next generation, and they know the distance and timing to take to reach individual children.
There were many repetitive participants. Some were participants when they were children, and this time they participated as staffs. They kept coming to the camp, not because they knew they could be free to do whatever they wanted to do, but they learned how to enjoy the freedom by observing the basic rules. Some 70 participants including staffs were obviously enjoying the freedom under the sun.
7. Challenges at Tosa Yamada Shopping Center to Preserve Environment by Everyday Shopping in Kami-City, Kochi Prefecture
If you can help your community by your everyday shopping, it would be great.
At Tosa-Yamada Shopping Center (President Yasushi Ishikawa) in Kami-City, Kochi Prefecture, they have done the activity for limited periods for three years. This year, it was held from July 29 until September 11.
When you buy target items, you will donate 1 yen to an NPO. The 200 items varies from farm produce to processed items, toilet rolls to alcoholic drinks. Each item has a “donation” card, so the customer can choose if they buy the product to donate or they choose other product not to donate. As of August 30, they collected 155,244 yen.
This year, they decided to donate the money to “Sannrei no Moriwo Mamoru Minna no Kai” (President Ryozo Yorimitsu). This NPO has been working to repair damage caused by wild deer which feed around the headwater of Monobe River. The area originally was dense forest that could hold lots of rain. But since 2007, they realized it became fragile. The NPO has wound ropes around the trees to protect the bark from the deer, or make protective zones for wild plants, or place mats on the fragile slopes of the mountains to protect from landslides. They are effective. They also have been involved in a children’s eco-club to encourage them to think about the environment.
The project started when president Ishikawa of the shopping center listened to the lecture by the president of the NPO at a mini forum in Monobe River, Kochi in January 29, 2016. President Ishikawa himself learned how to swim in the Monobe River and he climbed the local mountains when he was a child. But while he grew up, his focus shifted away from the rivers and mountains. After listening to the lecture, he went to the mountain and found that it was totally different.
His corporate motto is “good for sellers, good for customers, good for community”. The campaign to benefit the community by buying what the customers need is a perfect idea to do business as a supermarket as well as to the social contribution. The customers can “participate” in the social activity by buying target items, and the NPO can firm up their financial support to continue their activities.
This type of activity can lead to solve various local issues.
8. IC Cards to Encourage More Children to Take More Public Transportation in Kochi
Many people drive in Kochi prefecture. Since 2011, Kochi Governor Masanao Ozaki (through the Kochi Prefectural Committee to reduce global warming) has encouraged people to take more public transportation which emits less waste. The committee provides IC cards for the pupils of the primary schools.
Thanks to the IC cards, primary schools and local children’s clubs use more public buses and trains. For the first 5 years, 15,000 children in total have used the public transportation. So far, 244 companies and organizations donated 5.7 million yen to compensate the fares. (As of Dec. 25, 2016)
School teachers say “it gives the pupils the opportunity to think that using public transportation would help eco-friendly lifestyle” or “some pupils learn how to take buses and trains and they would use more often in their lives”, or “through the campaign, children started thinking about the environment.”
This was a part of environmental activities to reduce global warming, but this was recognized as CSR activities that even small enterprises and groups can contribute. Private companies and groups can contribute the campaign from 10,000 yen as a smallest unit, and individual persons can contribute from 1,000 yen as a smallest unit. The sponsor companies can make PR and other activities to communicate directly with the community people at the public transportation events.
This event was awarded by the Ministry of Environment in 2016 as an outstanding environmental educational activity.
Besides providing the IC cards to more rural primary schools, they are planning to offer delivery lessons to show how public transportation can help reduce global warming. With monetary contributions to stabilize the activity, this campaign can develop further for the society.
Host organizer: Kochi Prefectural Committee to Reduce Global Warming
NPO Kankyo-no Mori Kochi
Address: Kochi Danjo Kyodo Sankaku Center 3F, 3-115, Asahi-Machi, Kochi-City, KochiPrefecture, 780-0935
9. Ecological and Comfortable! Zero-drained, eternally-recyclable toilet
What if we had zero-drained toilet…
Not only at the emergency, but in everyday life, what if we use toilets which do not drain water to rivers or the sea, save clean water, create no cesspool nor sewage water. We could use the toilet as we have used, but reduce the environmental burden, and lessen costs for the government and households. Do you know such dream system already exists!?
Daidou in Kochi City developed an eternally recycled toilet called “Recyclean”. They combine bio sludge disposal system with filtration, and reduce the human urine into the odor-free water. You have to collect night soil once every several months rather than every month if they use the toilet 200 times a day. You need 750watt of energy, or 3000 yen per month to activate the pump, but if you install solar panels to generate your own power, your running costs will be almost nothing. According to the managing director, they have many inquiries for the public toilets in the mountainous areas because they need no cesspool or sewage facilities. It is easy to install in the ordinary houses too, so it would be a great help to solve the problems of the old toilets. You can see such toilets in the parks in Kuroshio-Cho or local junior high schools.
We can expect sustainable “smart” toilets in ordinary houses in the future.
10. CSR Activities developed through Origami Lessons
- Making Origami Animals, Classes for Folding Paper
Children made origami elephants and butterflies. The most popular one was Hercules beetle. They learned how to fold the paper to make the beetle. The more complicated the animals were, the more passionate the learners became. When they completed, their faces were filled with the sense of accomplishment!
Resorttrust Inc. operates resort hotels and spas. This origami lesson is one of their CSR activities that Resorttrust has done as their social service. They have held origami lessons every other year since 2010, using the origami craft paper made by UNDB-J (Japan Committee for United Nations Decade on Biodiversity) during the 2005 World Exposition, Aichi, Japan. While they enjoyed folding paper into animals, they were led to think about biodiversity.
The staff smiled while showing how to make the animals. But moreover, they came to think about the biodiversity often when they got involved in this activity. The staff felt more united as a team while planning the event.
- For Coexistence of Nature and Resort Facilities
Resorttrust operates hotels and resort facilities to make use of people and nature with three CSR pillars; “natural environment”, “local environment” and “workplace environment.” For example,
・When they have to cut down trees to build their hotels, they will instead move the trees to another area or they will plant more trees than they would cut.
・They use the least hazardous chemical to maintain turf of the golf course. They use the used water for the plants, and try not to release the used water outside of their facilities.
・They join cleaning activities in the communities, including removing the illegally dumped wastes in the mountain forests around their communities. They collected 11-tons of waste this year. They value the bond with the local communities.
・They are proud of their food service, and their chef hosts cooking lessons. They also organize events of harvesting onions, local specialties, to share the fun and local values with the customers.
In 2015 United Nations adopted SDGs to realize sustainably developed societies. They expect that the movement incorporating sustainability in the corporate activities would be more and more popular. They may have some difficulties to have the environmental consideration in the service industry, but they believe that the resort facilities to offer the opportunity to think about biodiversity would be interesting.