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Green is Good: Eco-Shopping in Japan

Here are just a few simple tips on green living in Japan. It doesn't take much to make a big difference in your footprint on our little island home.

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I’m just going to say it: I feel bad about using disposable wooden chopsticks (waribashi). In a not-so recent article from Japan Times, the Forestry Agency estimates that 25 billion pair are used every year. Used once and tossed. Am I the only one who feels like a jerk for doing this?

The vending machines, the plastic bottles, the nine billion plastic bags. It’s all so convenient, but is it SO bad for the environment. If I pulled the eco-damaging stuff I’ve been getting away with here in San Francisco, I’m pretty sure I’d be strapped to a chair made of biodegradable corn starch and forced to watch a looping video of nuclear winter, with a pedantic voiceover track by Wayne Dyer.

Green living in Japan isn’t hard, but it does require a little thought. Here’s what I found to reduce my big, fat, American carbon footprint.



I was at a kitchen store the other day and stumbled across this beauty. Bobble is cute, BPA-free, comes in three sizes, and has a built-in filter so you don’t have to worry about water cooties.

It seems like I’m always on the move here, so having a bottle I can fill anywhere makes a lot of sense. The best part? One filter saves 300 plastic bottles from being used, which, at ¥110 per bottle, means I save some scrill too. Winner. ¥990

 Fat Kitty (or whatever you’re into) Shopper


Bags are a total no brainer, and they’re everywhere. Daiso has the plain nylon version (great for rain too) but I say if you can’t have fun with your bag then what the heck is up? My criteria for bags is washable, packable, and cute.

I’m not personally passionate for Fat Kitty, but I know girls who’ll see this and go “Awww. Fat Kitty. I love morbidly obese pets.”  Starting at ¥105

My Hashi


The movement started in 2007, with fashion leaders in Tokyo who saw the wood waste of the waribashi and wanted to start a new kind of trend, My Hashi. Given that many restaurants won’t give up the waribashi (because many customers think lacquered sticks are unsanitary) and chopsticks take up zero room in your bag, the My Hashi trend makes sense for everyone.

Starting at ¥315. Here are some cute picks.

If you don’t want a bag for that teeny purchase, just say “Iie, kekkou desu,”  (no thanks), or if you need to be really specific,  “fukuro wa irimasen.” (I don’t need a bag.)

Don’t know about you, but I feel better already.

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  • Michael Werker says:

    You have actually pretty much covered my own thoughts on this! Awesome article! With all the commercials telling you to buy eco washing machines, eco cars, eco aircons and so on, you would think people might want to start a more eco lifestyle. But no. As you perfectly showed, it takes a bit more to save the environment than just buying something with an eco.sticker on it! I am definitely following your example 🙂 I wish people would raise more awareness about this issue, here! Have a nice day.

    • Cynthia Popper says:

      Thanks Michael! Yeah it’s pretty easy to make an impact on the environment here. Just carrying a couple of small things in my bag reduces a ton of waste, and I just feel better about it. And since getting my Bobble I’m drinking way more water, which is kind of key in the heat. 🙂

  • Liraya says:

    I really like the Bobble. Can I buy it online somewhere?



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