Thursday, January 10, 2008

Speaking of baby steps and the Wal a few posts ago...

Some students in plastic-burnin', whale-harpoonin', but charmingly portmanteau-lovin' Nihon have come up with shibukasa.

Taking advantage of a "community currency" system already in place in Shibuya Ward, a group of university students in Tokyo has started a project to reuse discarded plastic umbrellas.

The system behind "shibukasa" — a portmanteau word combining Shibuya and "kasa" (umbrella) — is simple. When one returns a shibukasa — which can be identified by a sky-blue umbrella logo — to a cafe or other store that keeps them, the borrower will receive Earth Day Money, which is accepted at some establishments in the ward.

If you know Japan, you know those ubiquitous little umbrellas for 300 yen that litter the trains and clog the umbrella bins -- and you also know this little thing these students are doing is a good thing indeed. Love the Earth Day money too -- keeps people involved until it becomes second nature. Baby steps, baby steps.

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