What is MOTTAINAI?

Have you ever heard the word “Mottainai”?

“Mottainai” is a Japanese word that can’t be translated easily, but has colloquial equivalents such as the English expressions, “What a waste!” and “Waste not, want not.”

Its origins are not clear, but the word “Mottainai” has Buddhist roots, meaning essence or importance. Mottainai reflects the idea that we should respect objects and not waste them.

Getting to know the spirit of Mottainai shows us the way to realize the sustainability.

I’d like to introduce about Mottainai spirit in today's blog.

The word "Mottainai" is used not only in Japan but also in the world.

Ms. Wangari Maathai who is a Kenyan environmentalist spread the word all over the world. In 2004, she was awarded the Novel Peace Prize as the first African woman for her grassroot activity to encourage tree planting and many other environmental movements.

She was deeply impressed when she heard about Mottainai and decided to spread the word to the rest of the world. She felt that this single word neatly expresses the basic concept of the environmental conservation movement The three R’s -reduce, reuse and recycle-. She also thought that it encompasses another important concept, respect for the earth’s limited resources, which can be a fourth R of the environmental conservation movement.

She started to propose “Mottainai” as a keyword for her activities to protect the environment and Mottainai campaign spread around the world.

With the growing concern about environmental problems, many companies and organizations took their own Mottainai campaigns. For example, Food bank is one of the famous campaigns that is known widely. This is a campaign carried out by a non-profit, charitable organization that distributes food to those who have difficulty purchasing enough to avoid hunger. Getting to know about these campaigns sustainable living.

Here I’d like to introduce 3 hints to make use of Mottainai spirit for your life.

1. To waste food is MOTTAINAI!

Do you know how much food that get thrown out around the world in a year?

According to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2011, global food loss and waste reached 1.3billion tons annually. Around a third of the world’s food was lost or wasted every year. But sadly, about 8 billion people is suffering from hunger on the other hand. To be thankful for the food you have and try to buy only what you need is going to be the starting point towards environmental problems.

2. Find MOTTAINAI in your daily life

Let’s look back our daily lives. Leaving the TV on while nobody watches, boiling too much water for only one cup of coffee, turning on the heater with only T-shirt on, etc.

These are hidden Mottainai actions that are likely to happen every day. In our home, about 40% of electricity is used for refrigerators, lighting, TVs, and air conditioners. To realize these Mottainai and try not to waste an energy will be a big step to be an eco-friendly person.

We can find many Mottainai which are not only about electricity but also other resources. Let’s use your own shopping bag, mug cup, straw etc. instead of disposable ones. To save our limited resources.

3. Throwing away things still can be used is MOTTAINAI!

People treasure lives of animals (of course), but how about things like clothes bags and other daily items? When you throw away something, please think again whether it can still be used or not. If yes, why don’t you give it to someone who need it?

Recently, there are many opportunities to reuse them. For example, you can use flea market apps or sell them to recycle shops. And you can donate to organization that reuse these items or just give them to your friend who need it.

Please keep the spirit of Mottainai and make your life eco-friendly!

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