Living and Giving

What We Can Learn from Japan’s Environmental Sustainability

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Where do you think the concept of environmental sustainability came from? Sometimes we think America is the “entrepreneur of all answers.” We innovate here, and I love that quality about our country. And while I’m proud of California’s increased consciousness about the importance of preserving our Earth, we usually have to look back to see where the truth started.

One remarkable era we can learn from is the Edo period in Japan, lasting from 1603 to 1868. Japan was ruled at this time by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family. This period was marked by stability and rising urbanization. Here are a few key concepts this era espoused, from which we can continue to learn::

1)      Localization.  They encouraged patronizing local suppliers, and fought the desire to contract with long-distance providers. They intimately supported their local community.

2)      Inspiration.  Your home should be inspiring. All the objects in your home should reinforce your values and character. Home should be a respite of calm and peace, and a reflection of who you are.

3)      Moderation.  Edo era homes were not grandiose. Each room reflected only what was needed.

4)      Balance.  Your home should reflect a sense of balance within the spaces, allowing for different types of activities. Some may be  more energetic, others which are more peaceful.

5)      Green light.  Try to use all the natural light that comes to us from our earth. Green light is light from the sun, and not fluorescent bulbs. In fact, I’d even go so far to say that what a wonderful world it would be if we operated based on when our day was light — and our night was dark. Our body rhythms would be in tune with this natural course of living. Perhaps light is sending us a message of when we should work, engage with  people, and when we should sleep, rest, rejuvenate.