Oct 19, 2018

Sustainable Options

Sustainable Options photo

When I saw this notebook cover, I thought it was a zine from the city I used to live in and got excited. It's just a blank notebook, throwing around a couple of currently trendy words in Japan: sustainable and Portland.

So what have I learned (from living in Portland before moving to Japan)? I don't think that all sustainable thinking was imported to Japan, for a start.

Sustainable Options photo

I found some fair trade chocolate (which is a dark choco by my standards) at Kaldi Coffee Farm. I can't get there very often, so I thought I could find some on Amazon instead. I'm not sure if ordering fair trade online (products mostly shipping from the EU) will actually offset purchasing non-fair trade from a local store. I'm still looking for the best solution - which is maybe giving up chocolate for something more local.

If I'm gonna buy something for regular use that's imported, I would love to at least buy the one that's fair trade. Fair treatment for workers globally makes sense to me. Otherwise it's those of us in countries with more money taking advantage just so we can eat too much chocolate and have a coffee addiction.

This is something I want to improve for myself: to eat more locally and only buy local products. I'm reminded of this by my Japanese students who live this way. But coffee and cocoa are not products easily grown in Japan, if at all. The ideal solution is to replace my coffee addiction with green tea and snack on something local instead of chocolate.

I'm starting a new challenge for the rest of the year. It's a no shopping challenge. No stopping by a bread shop or 100 yen store for convenience; leaving the grocery shopping to my less impulsive husband. The hope is that I'll focus and not waste time, but it will probably save money and help me to avoid snacking. I'm fine with shopping when my husband can't be bothered but I have time, or for other planned purchases. I just watched some videos that inspired me to be more conscious of how I shop. I enjoy grocery shopping and art supply / stationary shopping exclusively, but I tend to wander around wasting time and probably buying things I don't need. I love the idea of being content with what I have. I have enough.

There are local handmade sales on a regular basis, so if I need something, I want to support local artists rather than buying something cheaper but mass produced. This isn't really a new way of thinking for me, but when I get overwhelmed with life, it's not as much of a priority.

Sustainable Options photo

I've been composting since I was a preschooler and feel frustrated that I can't really deal with it living in an apartment. The photo above is a safety razor with disposable blades only (rather than the entire razor being disposable); a mimikaki or ear pick (rather than using disposable cotton swabs); and a refillable pen, all with a background of one of my tote bags I use instead of collecting plastic. Reducing waste is another part of sustainability.

I get the idea that people in Japan are well aware of green options with varying levels of interest. Older generations are amazing at using what they have. Young people seem to want to choose the sustainable options and I feel like their curriculum encourages that.

I recently watched a TED talk encouraging sustainable investing as well. As someone who hates smoking, this really resonated with me. Why would I invest into a tobacco company? There are sustainable retirement funds set up to avoid companies like tobacco, alcohol, gambling, and oil, the companies most people believe would be harmful to humans.

I think most people agree that the sustainable option is better, but it's a matter of convenience, education, and creating a new habit. I hope we can make the default sustainable so it's an easy choice. 



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