Tag: ‘Environment’

Groovisions creates funky ag ministry video

24 Oct 2008

The Tokyo-based Groovisions motion graphic design crew has created a stylishly animated educational video for the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), which highlights some of the issues surrounding the future of food in Japan.

In the video, Groovisions use their hallmark playful-yet-ordered sim-like virtual landscape to illustrate a host of food-related challenges facing Japan. Issues include Japan's 40% food self-sufficiency rate (the lowest of any major industrialized nation), the declining agricultural industry, and the impact of world population growth and environmental changes on the global food supply.

Ensuring the Future of Food -- Ensuring the Future of Food --

The video also suggests that the Western-style diet of meat, fat and oil, which has partially replaced Japan's traditional diet of rice, fish and vegetables, has contributed to a variety of health problems and reduced demand for domestically grown produce. The food situation is exacerbated by other demographic factors such as the aging farming population and the abandonment of agricultural land. To reverse these trends, MAFF encourages consumers to make sustainable food choices and urges the industry to produce safe, properly labeled food.

Ensuring the Future of Food -- Ensuring the Future of Food --

The video (w/ English subtitles) was posted on the official MAFF YouTube channel, which was created last month.

[Link: Ensuring the Future of Food (Tip: watch the high-quality version)]

Rabbit-kun garbage bag + friends

27 Aug 2008

Rabbit-kun Garbage Bag Art Work -- Rabbit-kun Garbage Bag Art Work --

Meet Rabbit-kun, a plastic trash sack with pink eyes, an X-shaped mouth, and a pair of bunny ears that double as handles. Designed by Tokyo-based creative group MAQ, Inc., Rabbit-kun aims to inspire a more responsible attitude toward waste by providing a cute and stylish way for people to carry their trash home after a day outdoors. Whether it's a picnic in the park, a hike in the mountains, or a day at the beach -- or any place without public trash cans -- Rabbit-kun is charming enough that you might actually enjoy carting your garbage all the way home.

Rabbit-kun Garbage Bag Art Work -- Rabbit-kun Garbage Bag Art Work --

The bunny-shaped sack is the latest in a line of eye-pleasing Garbage Bag Art Work trash bags by MAQ. Their previous creations include a series of color-coded bags imprinted with patterns of trees, fish and flowers, which are designed to add convenience and character to neighborhood garbage collection points.

Another bag, which features a life-sized illustration (by Lily Franky) of trash-loving Oscar the Grouch, was designed in collaboration with Sesame Street as part of an environmental awareness campaign for children.

Oscar Garbage Bag Art Work --

For now, these bags are being distributed free of charge at select outdoor events, as well as to volunteer cleanup groups and schools.

Oscar Garbage Bag Art Work -- Oscar Garbage Bag Art Work --

And for animal lovers, MAQ offers the Mottainai series of bags featuring images of teary-eyed penguins, seals and polar bears, which turn the neighborhood trash heap into a friendly reminder of the fragility of our planet. A portion of the profits go to the Green Belt Movement (a grassroots environmental NGO established by Kenyan political activist, environmentalist and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai), which has planted millions of trees across Kenya to prevent soil erosion.

Oscar Garbage Bag Art Work --

Garbage Bag Art Work trash bags are available at various locations in Tokyo or at the Mottainai online shop (Japanese).

Photos: Tetrapod beaches of Japan

12 Aug 2008

Tetrapod --
Near Tappi Saki, Aomori (Photo: Mr_M_Montgomery)

Hit the beach anywhere in Japan, and you are likely to see endless piles of tetrapods -- enormous four-legged concrete structures intended to prevent coastal erosion. By some estimates, more than 50% of Japans 35,000-kilometer (22,000-mi) coastline has been altered with tetrapods and other forms of concrete. Critics, who blame the tetrapod invasion on decades of excessive government spending designed to bolster the construction industry, argue that in addition to posing a danger to swimmers, surfers and boaters, tetrapods actually accelerate beach erosion by disrupting the natural processes that shape the coastal environment. Meanwhile, others have developed an aesthetic appreciation of the tetrapod landscape, as evidenced by a host of stunning Japanese tetrapod photos on Flickr.

Tetrapod --
Location unknown (Photo: saksak)

Tetrapod --
Location unknown (Photo: f l u x)

Tetrapod --
Kawasaki (Photo: gullevek)

Tetrapod --
Kobe (Photo: Joshua Richley)

Tetrapod --
Hamamatsu, Shizuoka (Photo: seotaro)

Tetrapod --
Yakushima (Photo: TommyOshima)

Tetrapod --
River bank, Shikoku (Photo: kodama)

Tetrapod --
Amarube (Photo: shikihan)

Tetrapod --
Tetrapod molds -- Location unknown (Photo: Toru Aihara)

Tetrapod --
Location unknown (Photo: electricnude)

Tetrapod --
Location unknown (Photo: takay)

Tetrapod --
Location unknown (Photo: saksak)

[Images: Flickr photos tagged "Tetrapod" & "Tetrapods"//Further reading: Japan Times, Wikipedia]

Zero Emission House

17 Jun 2008

Zero Emissions House --

Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has released a few details about the "Zero Emission House," a state-of-the-art green home under construction at the site of the upcoming Hokkaido Toyako G8 Summit, where environmental issues will be high on the agenda.

Incorporating the latest in sustainable building technology, the 280-square-meter (3,000 sq ft) Japanese-style home is designed to have a small carbon footprint. A 14.5-kilowatt solar array and a small 1-kilowatt wind generator provide power to the home, which is equipped with next-generation energy-saving appliances, thermal insulation glass, vacuum insulated panels and a green roof. The interior is illuminated by a system of light ducts and OLED lamps.

Zero Emissions House --

Honda's Asimo humanoid robot -- whose exact carbon footprint size is unknown -- will be on hand to serve tea to guests, who are welcome to test-drive the electric vehicles in the driveway and soak their feet in the fuel cell-powered foot bath.

Construction of the 200 million yen ($2 million) home is scheduled for completion at the end of June, at which time it will be unveiled to the foreign press. After the summit, plans are to transport the house to another location, where it will be opened to the general public.

[Source: METI]

Solar-powered bra displays text, holds drinks

14 May 2008

Triumph Photovoltaic-Powered Bra -- Lingerie maker Triumph International Japan has unveiled a new eco-friendly concept bra called the "Solar Power Bra" (太陽光発電ブラ - Taiyoko Hatsuden Bra), which aims to stimulate eco-awareness and promote clean energy.

The green, high-quality cotton bra features a waist-mounted solar panel that powers a small, chest-mounted electronic billboard or any other electronic device you choose to connect. A pair of reusable drink containers attach to the bra cups, allowing the wearer to reduce consumption of aluminum cans and plastic bottles while increasing bust size. When not in use, the containers can be collapsed and stored in small pockets in the cups.

Triumph hopes the bra inspires people to think about global warming, the dwindling supply of fossil fuels, and the future of energy.

[Source: Nikkei]

A few of the many concept bras by Triumph:

- NO! Shopping Bag Bra
- Voter Turnout Lift-UP Bra
- My Chopsticks Bra

Robot buoy hunts down spilled oil

21 Feb 2008

SOTAB -- As long as oil is transported by sea, accidental spills will remain a threat to the marine environment. When an oil spill occurs, the cleanup response must be quick in order to minimize the environmental and economic impact. To help speed up the response, researchers at Osaka University are developing an autonomous marine robot that can track down spilled oil and provide real-time location data.

SOTAB 1 (Spilled Oil Tracking Autonomous Buoy 1) is a 110-kilogram (243 lb.) GPS-equipped robot that measures 2.72 meters (9 ft.) from top to bottom and 27 centimeters (11 in.) in diameter. It has imaging sensors that can spot floating globs of oil from a distance, as well as viscosity sensors that detect the presence of oil, and it includes a wind monitor, depth meter and water thermometer. When multiple robots are dropped into the water at regular intervals around an oil spill, they can provide a wealth of valuable data to cleanup crews and allow them to monitor a wide area.

Once in the water, SOTAB 1 begins searching for oil by reducing its buoyancy and diving underwater, where it trains its imaging sensors back up at the surface. When the robot sees something that looks like oil, it readjusts its buoyancy and floats back to the surface, using 4 fins to steer toward the oil slick. It then takes water samples and determines how much oil is present. As SOTAB 1 follows the oil around, it sends back real-time data about its location and the surrounding meteorological and oceanographic conditions.

Head researcher Naomi Kato, an underwater robotics engineering professor at Osaka University, says SOTAB 1 is still in the development phase, but he hopes to see it become commercially available in 2 to 3 years.

"We want to get the weight under 30 kilograms and extend the battery life to about 3 to 4 weeks," says Kato, who began working on the robot in 2006. "We would one day like to see these robots become standard equipment on oil tankers."

[Source: Asahi]

My Chopsticks Bra

07 Nov 2007

My Chopsticks Bra by Triumph International Japan -- On November 7, lingerie maker Triumph International Japan unveiled the "My Chopsticks Bra," which features a pair of cups that resemble bowls of rice and miso soup, and a set of collapsible chopsticks that tuck into either side. The My Chopsticks Bra is the latest addition to Triumph's line of concept lingerie designed to boost awareness of environmental issues.

Triumph unveils the My Chopsticks Bra as Japanese consumers are becoming more aware of the negative impact that disposable chopsticks have on the environment. While it is becoming increasingly trendy for people to reduce waste by carrying around their own reusable chopsticks, Japanese consumers still go through an estimated 25 billion pairs (90,000 tons) of disposable chopsticks each year, which amounts to 200 pairs per person.

Triumph lingerie model Yuko Ishida, who ordinarily carries around a pair of her own chopsticks, says she hopes people think of the environment when they see this bra, adding that "the chopsticks on the sides help add a little extra volume to your bust."

Since 2004, Triumph has designed a number of eco-minded concept bras, including the Eco-globe Bra, the microwaveable Warm Biz Bra, and the No! Shopping Bag Bra.

[Source: Iza!]

UPDATE: Check out the video.

Cellphone recycling bins at Tokyo convenience stores

22 Jun 2007

Cellphone recycling bin -- On June 20, NTT Docomo and am/pm Japan announced plans to begin equipping convenience stores with cellphone recycling bins, making it easier for people to recycle their unwanted devices.

Since 1998, Japan's wireless providers have been recycling unwanted phones in their own stores for customers who switch models or cancel their contracts. In recent years, however, it has become increasingly common for customers to wait a while before recycling their old handsets, mainly because they hold greater amounts of important data that needs to be accessed even after switching models. Most users eventually decide to dispose of their mobile devices, though, so NTT is hoping they will make use of these recycling bins.

The recycling bins, which will initially be set up at eight convenience stores in central Tokyo, are open to unwanted handsets of all makes and models. The bins are also designed to prevent theft of the contents.

In 2005, NTT harvested 37,993 kg (42 tons) of copper and 145 kg (320 pounds) of gold from discarded handsets.

[Source: MYCOM]

Bio hydrofined diesel to fuel Tokyo buses

07 Feb 2007

Bio hydrofined diesel to fuel Tokyo buses --- On February 6, Nippon Oil (ENEOS), Toyota Motors, Hino Motors and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced the launch of a joint project aimed at putting bio hydrofined diesel (also known as BHD, or second-generation biodiesel) into practical use. In 2007, the city will begin trial operation of city buses that run on a 10% BHD-diesel blend.

Produced through a process of hydrogenating vegetable oil and animal fats, BHD is more resistant to oxidation than conventional biodiesel known as fatty acid methyl ester (also known as FAME, or first-generation biodiesel), allowing for higher concentrations in diesel blends. While FAME concentrations in diesel blends are limited to 5%, BHD concentrations can reach 10%. The new fuel complies with Tokyo's latest emission control regulations.

Furthermore, the BHD production process allows for the raw materials -- vegetable oil, animal fat and used cooking oil -- to be processed together. In FAME production, each type of raw material must be processed separately.

Before deciding whether or not to put BHD into practical use, the group will study the overall effectiveness of the fuel as a means of fighting global warming, as well as the feasibility of establishing a fuel production and supply system. The proposed move toward BHD is the first stage in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's project to cut carbon emissions to 25% of 2000 levels by 2020.

[Sources: Nikkei BP, Corism]