Eco CornerBy Jake Reiner
Choices for Sustainable Lifestyles
Green Roller Coaster
It doesn’t do a loop-to-loop or go 1,000 miles an hour, but the pedal powered Skycycle roller coaster at Washuzan Highland Park in Okayama may be the future of amusement parks. The thrill comes from strapping into a little cart on a narrow rail and pedaling yourself through treetops and out over dizzying heights. It is listed as one of the “10 Scariest Roller Coasters in the World,” and the amazing views of the Shimotsui-Seto Bridge make it well worth the challenge. And you are not burning any fossil fuels to get there.
Sometimes the simplest solutions are right in front of our eyes. The tawashi brush has been cleaning dishes and scrubbing vegetables in Japan since the Meiji Era and is now becoming a popular eco-product in many countries.
Made from renewable natural palm fibers, it is non-toxic, cleans better than plastic sponges and can last up to 20 years. If you are already using one, give yourself an “eco star.” If you haven’t given it a try, throw out that old sponge and go pick one up today.
Tokyo Underground Farming
In the heart of Tokyo’s Otemachi business district, in what was once an underground bank vault, a little farm has taken root. Named Pasona O2 (it’s located in the Nomura Building and sponsored by Pasona), this high-tech organic veggie patch grows rice, tomatoes, strawberries, lettuce and more.
Artificial light and hydroponics allow the crops to prosper, and the farm is used as a training space for young people and retirees wanting to start a career in agriculture. If you are not ready to build one at home yet, you can visit this one weekdays until 6 p.m. Tel: (03) 6734-1070
Solar Powered Boat
This sleek little craft will take you and a few friends cruising at speeds up to 5 mph powered only by sunlight. On-board batteries power the 700-watt motor that holds a charge six hours, so sunset and moonlight cruises are always options.
Easy to operate and maintenance free, this little gem is clean, quiet and doesn’t leave any oily residue on the water as would a traditional outboard. But we are hoping the next version has a bathroom and a bit more cabin space.
Tried of hitting the gym after work? The Walkstation workspace is an integrated treadmill/computer desk that allows you to burn 100 calories an hour while you type away. It was developed by the Mayo Clinic's Dr. James Levine as a way to increase health among office workers and fight obesity. The attractive modern design looks very ergonomic, but I just can’t see where you put the chair.