Category Archives: Environmental Awareness

Avoiding waste with the Japanese concept of ‘mottainai’

The idea of ‘mottainai’—a Japanese approach to the concept of waste—could provide the west with a philosophical answer to environmental crises. Kevin Taylor, a graduate student in environmental philosophy from Southern Illinois University, explores this nuanced ethic of care and its deep roots in eastern ways of thinking.

In environmental studies, islands are often noted as isolated places where people have caused problems by exhausting local resources. The most famous example is Easter Island.

The builders of the famous statues, aware that they were almost completely isolated from the rest of the world, must surely have realised that their very existence depended on the limited resources of the small island. Yet they exhausted its resources anyway. This is often used as a metaphor for what we are doing to the planet; an idea made popular by Clive Ponting in his A Green History of the World.

Mottainai has come to be thought of as an all-encompassing Japanese term for the four Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle and respect.

 

In an increasingly globalised world, island nations have access to outside resources but the island mentality remains in countries such as Japan, which has developed a particular environmental awareness articulated concisely by the word mottainai.

The term expresses a feeling of regret at wasting the intrinsic value of a resource or object, and can be translated as both ‘what a waste’ and ‘don’t be wasteful’.

In recent years, the concept of mottainai has been popularised by Japanese and international media, as well as through children’s literature and in academia. Despite the pop culture applications, the word itself is said to have origins in Buddhist philosophy and religious syncretism. It has long been used to express the feeling of regret that carries with it metaphysical, ethical, and aesthetic connotations.

As a concept, mottainai reflects the feeling that arises from the awareness of both the interdependence and impermanence of all things.

‘The four Rs’

Thanks to Wangari Maathai, an accomplished political and environmental activist, mottainai has come to be thought of as an all-encompassing Japanese term for the four Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle and respect.

 

Before Maathai popularised mottainai outside of Japan, the word was being used by environmentally conscious Japanese activists in 2002. But Japanese scholars and authors insist that the mottainai spirit has been a part of Japanese culture for a long time, especially during the resource-starved post-war period.

Indeed, many Japanese attribute a mottainai attitude to their grandparents. Mariku Shinju illustrated this very attitude in her children’s book Mottainai Grandma.

‘Our parents told us what mottainai is so we know what it means. But if we don’t teach them to our children, they don’t learn,’ she says. ‘It’s a very scary thing. That’s why I thought we have to make an effort to teach the idea and to change the situation.’

This older generation was forced to live through a resource-poor era and the practice of frugality found resonance in Buddhism. Mottainai Grandma was published in 2005, which was the same year Maatthai first introduced it to the world.

Shinto

According to Yuko Kawanishi, a sociologist at Tokyo Gakugei University, mottainai also has ties with Shinto animism, the idea that all objects have a spirit—or kami.

The idea that we are part of nature and should maintain a harmonious relationship with nature is a deep part of Japanese psychology.

Not only does nature find itself imbued with kami, Shinto also celebrates the spirituality in man-made objects.

A prime example of this can be found in the idea of tsukumogami(animated household objects). Tsukumogami are a type of yōkai—variously translated as monster, spirit, goblin, ghost, demon, phantom, spectre, fantastic being, lower-order deity, or more amorphously as any unexplainable experience or numinous occurrence.

When an object turns 100 years old, it attains a spirit and becomes a tsukumogami. The concept that 100-year-old objects are imbued with spirits was an outgrowth of the Shinto reverence for objects and sacred spaces. A modern day ritual known as ningyō kuyō collects unwanted but not unloved dolls and, in a kind of mock funeral, prays for them and thanks the dolls for years of fond memories.

Even though the dolls are not technically tsukumogami, a ritual is performed to purify and drive out the spirits within. Both Shinto and Buddhist sects perform the ritual, though funerals are typically the realm of Buddhist priests. The general perception is that the ritual is necessary to help the passage of the spirit from the realm of the living to the realm of the dead.

This reverence for objects is commonly applied to katana, teapots and calligraphy brushes, but also to more mundane items such as pencil boxes, room dividers and umbrellas.

Buddhism

While Mottainai has been identified in such manifestations, it is for the most part understood as having its origins in Buddhist philosophy—particularly the concept of pratītyasamutpāda, or dependent origination.

Buddhist environmentalism is said to have begun with Gary Snyder in the early 1950s. Among Snyder’s contributions to eco-Buddhism was his ecological reading of Indra’s net—a metaphor used to illustrate the concept of dependent origination.

Eco-Buddhist David Barnhill describes the theory as ‘relational holism’, simultaneously affirming the primacy of relationships among particulars, but also the primacy of the whole.

It is here that we find Buddhism and ecology share a common vocabulary—particularly in terms of interconnectedness—which cautions us to be mindful of our actions so as to minimise suffering and not be wasteful.

The Buddhist monastic tradition emphasises a life of frugality in order to concentrate on the attainment of enlightenment. In fact, stories of ascetic denial in Buddhism are not uncommon, and such stories lend credence to the belief that mottainai is Buddhist in origin. It is within this move towards frugality that a Japanese aesthetic begins to emerge from mottainai as a concept of waste.

Mottainai attempts to communicate the inherent value in a thing and encourage using objects fully or all the way to the end of their lifespan. Leave no grain of rice in your bowl; if a toy breaks, repair it; and take good care of everything.

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Regional Resource Recovery Centre Tour 12 Nov 2016 with Patrick

Regional Resource Recovery Centre Tour 12 Nov 2016 with Patrick

2016-11-12-10-28-31
Map of the facility

Waste Composting Facility video.
https://www.facebook.com/Recycle.Right.with.WREN/videos/1149795431759652/

– Broken glass HAS to go to recycling.
– Look up compostible bin liners. As opposed to biodegradable ones.
– Tour of the garden.
– Tour of the green waste processing where mulch is made. Sold by Richgro.
– Tour of the recycling facility – All glass gets broken up and ends up as road base.

Reinventing Your Recycling / Materials Recovery Facility Video
https://www.facebook.com/Recycle.Right.with.WREN/videos/1246810738724787/

– Don’t bag recycling!!!!!!!!!! Especially if it’s tied up it won’t be recycled for safety reasons.
– 22000 yellow tipped bins come in everyday.
– No shredded paper in recycling.
– Verge stuff just goes straight to the tip after the metal is taken out.

Link to the facebook event – https://www.facebook.com/events/357613621244063/

Bonus:
Green Waste Facility Video
https://www.facebook.com/Recycle.Right.with.WREN/videos/1221464467926081/

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Hugh’s War on Waste (The River Cottage Guy) #wastenot

Hugh’s War on Waste (The River Cottage Guy)
Hughs War on Waste Episode 1 of 2

Hughs War On Waste (S1E1) by watchtvshow2

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is on a mission to change the way we think about waste, by challenging supermarkets and the fast food industry to drastically reduce the amount of waste they generate. We live in a country where one third of the food we produce never gets eaten, and the average family bins £700-worth of food a year. Hugh believes something needs to be done. First he confronts ordinary shoppers in the supermarket, armed with a wheelie bin. He’s going to try to take their shopping off them before they have even left the store… after all, they are only going to throw it away later in the week, so why not save them the bother of taking it home? Then he heads to a parsnip farm in Norfolk, where he uncovers the truth about the supermarkets’ strict cosmetic standards, which means that any slightly imperfect fruit or veg gets rejected. In a bid to get everyone in the country to think more about how much food we bin and what we throw away, Hugh goes undercover as a bin man. Poking through people’s bins, he gets to see first hand just how much stuff gets thrown away which shouldn’t be. He challenges the residents to drastically reduce the amount they throw away, and offers them tips and tricks to help them save food and money. Hugh is also concerned about the amount of food waste that is being generated by the fast food industry. He works out that KFC are throwing away a million chickens a year in the UK. When he confronts them about it, they announce an ambitious plan to redistribute over half of all their leftover chicken by the end of 2016. But will they live up to their promises?

Hughs War on Waste Episode 2 of 2

Hughs War On Waste (S1E2) by watchtvshow2

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is on a mission to reduce the amount of waste that Britain produces. The good news is that all the British supermarkets make big bold claims about how little waste they produce, but what does it really mean? Hugh joins up with skip divers Sam Joseph and Catie Jarman, on an illicit midnight supermarket bin raid to rescue perfectly edible food that was destined for the dump. If Sam, Catie and Hugh hadn’t intercepted it, all this good food would have gone to a place called anaerobic digestion (AD), where food waste is turned into energy. This is fine if it has gone off or spoiled, but surely if it is edible, it should be given to people? Hugh then finds out that it is not just food coming out the back of the supermarkets that is going to waste. Most of the waste in the supply chain happens before the food even gets to the supermarkets. A national charity has made it their business to intercept as much of this food as they can and redistribute it to charities. They are feeding 80,000 people a day with food that would otherwise get thrown away, but this is only 2% of all the food waste out there. Hugh lays down a challenge to the supermarkets to commit to sending less of their waste to AD, and more to charity. In his bid to reduce the mountain of food waste that is being generated on Britain’s farms due to supermarkets’ strict cosmetic standards, Hugh gathers evidence from one farm in Norfolk and prepares to take it to one of the big four supermarkets. But it’s not just food that we’re wasting – shocked by how disposable fashion seems to have become, Hugh dumps seven tonnes of clothes in a shopping centre and asks for guesses on how long it takes us to throw away this much stuff. Answers range from three days to six hours but the truth is much much less than this. Yet there is always a better place for our clothes to end up than the bin.

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Leonardo DiCaprio’s – Before the Flood – Full Movie by National Geographic

Leonardo DiCaprio’s – Before the Flood – Full Movie by National Geographic

I’ve embeded a few full versions in case one does not work.

Join Leonardo DiCaprio as he explores the topic of climate change, and discovers what must be done today to prevent catastrophic disruption of life on our planet.

For every use of #BeforeTheFlood across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram between October 24 – November 18, 21st Century Fox and National Geographic will together donate $1 to Pristine Seas and $1 to the Wildlife Conservation Society, up to $50,000 to each organization.

Summary:
– Crazy view of mining operations where it looks like the size of a city has been scooped out.
– Greenland melting and sea level rising is sinking cities. Some cities have been installing water pumps so the streets are not flooded and raising the roads. E.g. Boston, California, Miami Beach.
– Indian lady lectures Leo that US needs to pull it’s socks up and finger out as they are one of the biggest problem.
– Different island leaders talking about their sinking islands and relocating.
– Coral reefs dying doesn’t help capture the carbon while the planet produces more. Deforestation and burning trees make carbon ‘bombs’. Palm oil is a big one because it’s cheap and easy to produce. Indonesia where the rhino, orangutang and tiger live together is turning into a smoke city because of it.
– Even switching from beef to chicken you’d reduce your footprint by 50 to 80%.
– Elon Musk drops in to plug his battery and talk about how the Tesla batteries can do it. Plus introducing a carbon tax.
– NASA shows us the think onion skin layer of our atmosphere and to understand that is all we have. Heat map of the whole world and seeing the poles melting. Even if we stop burning fossil fuels the planet will still keep warming for a while.
– Global warming doesn’t only mean heat as other places are getting extremely cold.

Click to watch (FREE for limited time) on Amazon

 

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