JANCA International Symposium
“Senior’s Go Green”
‐Activities for the Aged Society and Environmental Protection‐
On March 7th, 2008, Japan NGO Council on Ageing (JANCA) held an international symposium “Senior’s go green: Activities for the aged society and environmental protection” at Yurakucho Asahi Hall in Tokyo. A number of senior citizens, who were active in environmental protection, were introduced before the symposium. At the symposium, Japanese and international experts on environmental problems and aging-related issues had meaningful speeches and lively discussions. The following is a summary of the symposium.
JANCA Demonstration: Senior Citizens Who Are Active in Environmental Protection
Introduced by Mr. Akihiko Yoshida (JANCA)
In addition to the introduction of six groups of senior citizens who were active in environmental protection, there was a “Mottainai” fashion show (reformed clothes) by “Iyoyo Hanayagu Club.”
<Case 1: Cultivating trees and forests that go back to the soil: Mr. Takashi Sekita>
Since my retirement, I have been involved in planting trees, providing pot-making classes out of deserted trees, and activities for everyone to cultivate forests. Our goals are environmental protection that can prevent global warming and tree-planting movement. More specifically, our organization tries to (1) develop a system so that anyone can enjoy cultivating forests, (2) utilize deserted trees (e.g., opening classes on nature and environment), (3) create jobs and places for senior citizens’ “Ikigai (meaning of life),” and (4) develop a community while utilizing local resources.
<Case 2: Green Recycle Center (GRC)>
GRC turns 10 tons of food waste into fertilizer everyday and return it to fields. It takes a number of processes, including pressing and filtering. With this fertilizer, we grow vegetables like potatoes and spinach. Currently, though it is not a lot, we also grow soy beans. My goal is to make 100% soy milk out of these soy beans so that people can stay healthy.
<Case 3: Akiruno Nature School>
Minato-ku, located in the middle of Tokyo, has leased a forest in Akiruno City and made it a civic forest. Activities of Akiruno Nature School include thinning the forest in order for trees to get enough sunlight, planting trees, and nest-making classes for children. At the class, children as well as older adults work together and go to a mountain to leave their nests.
<Case 4: NPO2050>
NPO 2050 is working on population problems, poverty, and women’s issues so that we can pass the peaceful and safe planet to the future generations. It is run by Mr. Kitatani, a retiree from the U.N. One of its activities is “Silkworm Project” in Philippines.
A number of mountains have been burned because of poverty. In response to this problem, this project helps people raise silkworm, make thread out of cocoons, and make clothes with the thread. These clothes can become income sources for them. If their income level becomes stable, they would not have to burn the mountains. Women’s status would also be improved.
<Case 5: Kome-tsutsuji Kai>
Activities of Kome-tsutsuji Kai are in the fields of environment, welfare, and education. Regarding environmental problems, we plant trees in a town near Tone River. Moreover, we have started growing loaches and Shijimi clams in abandoned farm lands due to aging of farmers. This project not only brings income by selling the products but also cleans water. We pay rent for the elderly farm owners, so the project also serves as an income security for them. This is one example of our activities to unite care and environment so that we can develop better communities.
<Case 6: Materializing the “Green Oil Field” concept: Mr. Takayoshi Tomita>
I belong to Workers’ Co-operative (Workers’ Co-op). We are the co-operative which creates jobs and develops communities through cooperative work. Ten years ago, this organization started founding Seniors’ Co-ops (Koureikyou) nationwide. Koureikyou focuses on work, Ikigai, and welfare; and its activities include running senior centers and health promotion programs for older persons.
In terms of environmental issues, we have started “Rape (Nanohana) Project” last year. We lease unused farmlands and grow rapes. If we press the seeds once, we can make cooking oil. We would like to make bio-fuel through the second press and fertilizers through the third press. At the same time, we are also planning to raise honey-bees at the farms and make high-quality honey.
Through this activity, we would like to protect environment, create jobs, utilize unused farmlands, and create Ikigai.
<Fashion show: Iyoyo Hanayagu Club>
Iyoyo Hanayagu Club was founded 10 years ago. Currently there are approximately 50 members aged 60 and over. The members not only design and make clothes but also become models to show them to people.
The theme of the show at this event was “Mottainai (No Waste).” The 30 members aged 56 to 85 introduced beautiful dresses and coats which were made from old Kimono and old clothes.