At ``minimal living tokyo.'', a select shop for household goods and cosmetics, we aim to make ``stylish, fun'' and eco-friendly choices in our daily lives, so we focus on environmental friendliness and health. We are developing products.
This time, we spoke to Eri Akai, the shop's representative.
-Please tell us about the select shop “minimal living tokyo.”
Eli: Until recently, in Japan, there were very few organic cosmetics and household goods with a zero-waste policy, and there weren't many stores that carried them. In fact, some people had concerns such as not knowing how to obtain products that are kind to the environment and people, and not knowing how to use them and having difficulty finding products that would suit them.
We want to reduce and improve the amount of disposable plastic and packaging waste used in cosmetics and miscellaneous goods.
I want people to enjoy and naturally incorporate products that are easy to use while being environmentally friendly.
We want you to purchase products with confidence through our filters.
With this in mind, in 2019, I collaborated with a friend I met in Canada to launch a select shop with products based on the concept of zero waste.
-You seem to value ecology. What made you start thinking about environmental issues?
Eli: I lived in Vancouver, Canada for 14 years. Vancouver is known as a green city, and there is no trash left on the streets, and the entire city is working on environmental issues. When it comes to shopping, people generally sell their food naked or by weight, and when purchasing food, they bring their own containers and only buy what they need each time. It was fun to think carefully about what I needed. I lived such a sustainable lifestyle as a matter of course, and even studied sustainable fashion during my student days, so when I returned to Japan, I felt a ``reverse culture shock'' at the amount of single-use garbage in Japan (lol).
The big trigger was the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred in 2011 while I was in Vancouver. He regularly participates in charity activities, and one year after the earthquake, he also helped remove the large amount of debris that had washed up on the Canadian coast from the disaster area. As time passed, he witnessed the huge amount of debris that had reached distant countries, and was shocked and became deeply concerned about ocean pollution. I once again realized that in order for us to continue to live our normal lives, we need a healthy global environment.
-The concept of your shop is "zero waste." What is “Zero Waste”?
Eli: Zero waste means that although it is difficult to reduce waste to zero, we are trying to devise and review things from the production stage so that they do not become waste.
The products we handle also have cyclical properties, such as those that can be buried in the ground and those that can be used repeatedly, and we specialize in environmentally friendly and sustainable products.
- Could you also tell us about your encounter with the term "zero waste"?
Mr. Eli: After returning to Japan from Canada, he joined the Patagonia Yokohama store, which originated in the United States and has environmental conservation as its corporate philosophy.While personally working with Canadian acquaintances on marine pollution-related activities, he later joined the newly opened Patagonia Vancouver store. I am now able to work at .
At the Vancouver store, which is based on the concept of sustainability, the staff was working on zero waste actions. It was here that I encountered this word for the first time, and it continues to be the foundation of my life.
Although there was a gap in daily work between local and Japanese staff, this was an important learning experience, and two years after bringing the teachings of zero waste back to Japan, the Yokohama store became the first in Japan to receive zero waste certification for apparel. I was able to do. Zero waste actions are now spreading at stores across the country.
-Are there any particular considerations when selecting products?
Eli: Basically, I select things that are simple and environmentally friendly.
Products from manufacturers that promote zero waste and products with a high proportion of organic ingredients.
Raw materials that place a burden on the environment are not used.
Vegan products that do not use animal products or are tested on animals.
No plastic is used in the container, which can be returned when buried in the ground.
It is also important to know what message we want to convey through our products.
Of course, we place great emphasis on ease of use, and we spend more than half a year on patch tests to ensure that products that come into contact with the skin can be used safely by people with sensitive skin and children, and we only select products that pass the test. . This shop is reliable, so you can buy with confidence! We have products that will make you think.
-Among the many products available, I would like to know which products you recommend that are easy to incorporate.
Eli: Vegan Dish Block (solid detergent for dishes)!
This vegan dish detergent is made from plant-based ingredients and has a high repeat rate due to its rich lathering and cleaning power. Although it is a detergent that is environmentally and user-friendly, it can be used for a long time, with regular size for about 2 months and mega size for about 7 to 8 months.
It is compatible with cellulose, loofah sponges, vegetable brushes, etc., and the detergent lasts longer.
Among them, the sponge made from loofah, which has been grown without pesticides for 40 years in Toyama Prefecture, can be used with confidence. It also lasts a long time, and when it is no longer usable, you can bury it in the ground and return it. Dishwashing detergent is something that most people use every day, so I think you can easily incorporate it.
- "Sustainable" was also the concept of Patagonia Vancouver store. Recently, I have heard the word sustainable more often in Japan, and I feel that interest and awareness are increasing.
Eli: I think it's a great thing that people around the world are becoming more aware of sustainability. A career built through hard work and a dream home. The goals you want to achieve and your ambitions for the future cannot be achieved through human power alone. I think it's all about having a good base environment. Living a sustainable lifestyle is something we should take for granted if we think about the future of the global environment.
In all aspects of food, clothing, and shelter, be as environmentally friendly as possible, make fun choices that suit you, and live comfortably and happily. I hope that by creating a world where such lifestyles are seen as ``normal'' and ``natural,'' people will realize that being environmentally friendly = being kind to people.
I also hope that Japanese society will become one where people can openly share their ideas.
- Please give us your final words.
Eli: Through the products of ``minimal living tokyo.'', living an eco-friendly and sustainable life can be so much fun! It's that simple! I would be happy if you noticed that.
I buy it because I want to live an eco-friendly life! Instead, buy only what you need when you need it. And make the most of what you have now! I think this way of thinking is very important.
Knowing one thing changes your consciousness. From there, what you choose will change. I believe that increasing the number of such people will lead to changes in the world.
Changing your mindset is a big step that anyone can take.
I want to continue to be a shop that provides an opportunity to change perspectives and change consciousness.