December 2010


Happy Holidays everyone!  The year is coming to a close and in Japan that means plenty of celebrating and gift giving.  Lots of decorating, parties, food, and presents adds up to a lot of fun, but also can mean tremendous waste, so I've been doing my best to recycle and be resourceful.

These are some things that I've been doing to stay eco-conscious during the holidays:

1) For family members, I wrap presents in a colorful traditional fabric, called a
" furoshiki" so that it can be reused instead of throwing away

2) Using solar LED lights for the Christmas tree and for decorating the house

3) For friends that live nearby or coworkers, I give them holiday greeting cards by
hand to save a stamp and also postal transport.

beertree_s.jpgI went to my local bar the other night to celebrate the holidays with friends and I was happily surprised to see a Christmas tree made from recycled green-glass beer bottles.  That's the spirit!  Happy Holidays from Eco Channel and looking forward to some eco friendly resolutions.   For more on traditional wrapping using a cloth that I mentioned earlier, check out this clip on "furoshiki wrapping". (*this video is no longer available)

Posted at:18:44  |  Category:Columns  |  RECYCLE THAT HOLIDAY SPIRIT   |  Comments(0) | Trackbacks(0)

  • Twitter
  • Google bookmark
  • Facebook

December 28, 2010 (Tue)Healthy Food Without Compromise

If you ever thought going vegetarian meant you'd have to give up the tastes and even look of your favorite dishes, think again.

The dishes at "Buona! Tubu Tubu" vegetarian restaurant are made of millet and other natural grains.  The owner of the restaurant specializes in recipes using these grains and has perfected the art of recreating the look and texture of some key foods.


dishesattubu.jpegThe chef had already prepared the restaurant's recommended favorites and had the spread out for me to sample upon my arrival.  I didn't think I was hungry, but the aroma of fresh ingredients filled the room. 

Having to take slow bites to show the samples for the video camera was sweet torture, but it left room for me to taste all the dishes without being too stuffed.
If you are ever in the mood to try out some clean tasting cusine, check out this place.

chef.jpeg _ sausages.jpeg _ Milletinbowl.jpeg _ Gingerandmillet.jpeg

This report on "ecological food" will be part of a new series on the program, "Green Style Japan," which will be aired February 16, 2011 (23:00-0:00 UTC) on NHK World.
After each episode is broadcast, it will be uploaded to the Eco Channel website.

In Tokyo and other cities in Japan, health food is creating a buzz among consumers.  Particular attention is on how the food tastes and where it comes from.  The "Nagata Method," a style of farming that is gaining popularity in Japan was started by agriculturalist Terukichi Nagata.  Watch this clip to find out how this method of farming is producing fruits and vegetables that are sweet and delicious, without the use of excessive fertilizers or chemicals. (*this video is no longer available)

Posted at:10:03  |  Category:Columns  |  Healthy Food Without Compromise   |  Comments(0) | Trackbacks(0)

  • Twitter
  • Google bookmark
  • Facebook

December 21, 2010 (Tue)Share Your Closet For A New Wardrobe

Give a little, get a little and expand your wardrobe for free!

That's exactly what I did at the "Eco Products" Fair held at Tokyo Big Site last weekend.  For a report on "sharing," I focused on a special group called "Xchange."  The group encourages bringing in old clothing, shoes, and accessories in exchange for used items brought in by others.  This large "closet sharing" activity becomes a huge market place for people to not only swap clothing, but to also exchange ideas with like-minded individuals.

But along with expanding my wardrobe, I also gained a glimpse into someone's past.
Each item to be exchanged has an "experience tag" attached it and this is where the owner writes a message or memory about the clothing.   "My favorite jacket from the 1950s" and "worn on my first date" were two of the messages that left an impression on me.  It's just a few words written on a scrap of paper, but knowing a little about what the owner felt about it gave it history, something you never get when you buy something new.


This report on "sharing" will be part of a new series on the program, "Green Style Japan," which will be aired every Wednesday in February 2011 (23:00-0:00 UTC) on NHK World.

But it's not only about small community efforts that  encourage recycling and sharing.  Some companies are pushing this trend as well, such as Bridgestone's tire recycling business that is turning old wheels into new tires.

Posted at:12:21  |  Category:Columns  |  Share Your Closet For A New Wardrobe   |  Comments(1) | Trackbacks(0)

  • Twitter
  • Google bookmark
  • Facebook

December 17, 2010 (Fri)Slow Food for A Healthy Mind and Heart

I recently went to my hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. My mother spent all day cooking and preparing my family's favorite Thanksgiving recipes including turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, and stuffing with gravy sauce. I tried to help but with my jetlag in full-effect, I woke up at 2pm, just in time to eat a delicious late lunch!

Sitting at the set table filled with my mom's home cooking brought back a lot of warm memories. Although my family didn't eat together everyday, we always were sure to get some quality time together over meals and holidays.

image002.gif (Thanksgiving lunch at Ginger's house)


There is a special kind of calm that comes with home cooking and familiar company. When I first came to Japan, I was amazed at how fast the city moved with people working very late and eating meals even later. Although I didn't get particularly homesick, I did miss holiday dishes and the comfort that comes with homemade meals. I found out that I wasn't alone. Many of my Japanese friends that moved to Tokyo from other cities said they also missed "comfort food" and a slower lifestyle.

See more on how the slow-food movement is becoming popular in some parts of
Japan, and how it is helping people live healthier, fuller lives.

"Heart Healing Food" Green Style Japan Aug. 19 2010 on Air

Posted at:11:18  |  Category:Columns  |  Slow Food for A Healthy Mind and Heart   |  Comments(0) | Trackbacks(0)

  • Twitter
  • Google bookmark
  • Facebook


Last week was the beginning of what was suppose to be "No Impact Week" for a class on climate change, energy, and food security at the United Nations University in Tokyo.  No impact basically means trying to reduce the amount of energy used in daily life, therefore having less of an impact on the environment.   Have you ever tried to do this?

I decided to take a hard look at everyday comforts that I take for granted in my everyday life and change my habits.  Well, at least a little bit.  On the top of my list of comforts at home is using electricity and gas to provide hot water and heat in my apartment.

Using energy is unavoidable as colder weather is fast approaching but I was able to think of a few ways to save energy while at home:

1)    Open the curtains during the daytime hours to bring in sunlight, which warms up the room and provides natural light.
2)    At night before going to bed, a hot bath or shower is enough to warm you up if you have a nice comforter that keeps heat from escaping...and you can leave the heater off.  (Heaters at night tend to dry my skin out so I've never really been a fan).
3)    During the day, you can reduce the temperature on the thermostat....wearing socks, slippers and a wool hat will help keep you warm.   If my feet, head, and core are warm, I can somehow manage.
4)    Drink warm beverages...warmth from within!
5)    If you live in a house that is heated by individual heating units, make sure that you only use the heater in the room that you are in, otherwise it's a big waste.

e_jbc_20101027_0140_ms.jpgAlthough winter in Tokyo can be tough as my commute by bicycle is bitter cold and mornings are frigid, one luxury that is eco-friendly and super relaxing can be found in a traditional piece of furniture, the kotatsu.  If you've never tried sitting under one of these low, heated tables, it is an enjoyable and warm way to spend a chilly afternoon.  Learn more about modern-day, heating tables made in Japan.

Posted at:16:36  |  Category:Columns  |  STAYING ECO-TOASTY AMID THE CHILL   |  Comments(0) | Trackbacks(0)

  • Twitter
  • Google bookmark
  • Facebook