Eco CornerBy Jacob Reiner
Choices for sustainable lifestyles.
In April 2009, the new Honda Insight is the first hybrid car to be crowned Japan’s best-selling car. The Insight is slightly smaller than the Toyota Prius but more affordable with a sticker price starting at ¥1.89 million. The innovative Eco Assist system changes the colors on the dashboard to let you know how efficiently you are driving. Go easy on the gas, and the dials turn green; lead foot it, and they turn red. Expect the Insight to be a common site on the Japanese roads for some time.
Yurts (called pao in Japan) are the traditional portable homes of nomadic herdsmen in Mongolia. Lightweight and durable, their popularity has spread beyond the steppes to become popular as a simple shelter.
Traditional yurts are made using sheep felt stretched over wooden frames that can be set up and packed quickly. Modern yurts are made from canvas and other materials and can be winterized for year-round habitation. They can make a fun, affordable weekend retreat or starter home on that little piece of land in the mountains.
Reef Loss and the WWF
According to a World Wildlife Fun (WWF) report, the beautiful coral reefs of the Pacific and Southeast Asia could be extinct by 2100. Pressure from over-fishing, pollution and increases in ocean temperature, acidity and sea level are killing reefs and associated species at an alarming rate.
One cause is unsustainable costal resort development. Boat traffic from tourism and sewage from hotels and shops all add to the problem. Try choosing an environmentally conscious resort for your next holiday. Our tourist dollars can be part of the problem or the solution. Contact the WWF for ways you can help.
www.wwf.or.jp (Japanese) www.panda.org (English)
Eclipse Solar Gear
Eclipse Solar Gear makes bags and backpacks with a variety of solar accessories for camping, sports and the urban eco-warrior. The Nova Solar Camera Bag gives photographers an extra 12V power source for charging batteries in the great outdoors.
It can handle a digital SLR camera and three lenses, and it comes with adjustable foam dividers. The Hybrid Laptop Case is a real first. The rugged case is sealed for protection and features internal cooling fans and an auxiliary battery that can take a charge from the solar panel or an AC outlet. The six-watt built-in solar panel can also charge accessories through a USB port. Limited production put these in high demand, so contact the company directly for international shipping before they are gone.
Green Mondays is a Tokyo-based group that meets monthly to discuss green business and sustainability issues. Recent topics include whether the hotel industry can be green, organic foods and fair trade issues, micro-finance and sustainable investment, to name a few. The group focuses on managers and professionals and features speakers from key industries, but anyone with an interest in climate change and environmental issues is welcome to join. Information on upcoming events and meetings is available online.