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Hachidori Project

August 4, 2009

Hachidori Project
Started in 2005

c/o The Sloth Club
6-15-2-912  Ojima, Koto-ku, Tokyo 136-0072

One day a forest was burning
Creatures of the forest scrambled to escape
But a hummingbird named Kurikindi carried a tiny drop of water in its beak,
Trying to put out the fire
Other animals looked at the hummingbird and said,
‘What’s the use of doing that?’
And they laughed and teased
Kuikindi replied by saying,
‘I am just doing what I can do’

Hachidori Logo by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

Hachidori Logo by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

We often feel like we cannot do anything about big problems like global warming. I am sure that many of you have tried the following environmental actions:
*turn off lights at home or in the office when they’re not needed
*reducing car usage as much as possible
*reduce your consumption of meat or shrimp
*take along a canteen to avoid using vending machines
*take along your own chopsticks or handkerchiefs to avoid using disposable ones
*hold a Candle Night on Summer and Winter Solstice.

However, we sometimes have to ask ourselves ‘what good is it to strive for these movements?’ Don’t worry, just remember the story of a hummingbird, and then imagine what could happen at the end of this story. Although the hummingbird strove very hard, did the forest necessarily burn down? First the other animals laughed at the hummingbird, but each one of them may have gotten inspired to each do what they could do, and collectively they might have extinguished the fire in the forest. A tiger might have spread dirt using its hind legs. An elephant might have poured water with its long trunk. We all can imagine what might have happened after the hummingbird took his first, brave step.

2005 was the Year of the Rooster, that is, on-dori in Chinese astrology.  In economics and business news, we often see the terms yoko-dori (snatching or stealing), bun-dori (getting the spoils) and iitoko-dori (unfair advantage).  Instead of these, what about becoming hachidori, or hummingbirds and just trying our best to save this beautiful Earth?  Inspired by the hachidori, Japanese Slow businesses have introduced a range of hachidori items, like Hachidori Coffee (Windfarm, Ltd.) and Hachidori chopsticks and thermoses (Slow Water Cafe).  Slow publishing company Yukkuri-dou published a bilingual book with the Hachidori story, called “What I can do — How to Cool the Earth.”  Please share the story of the hummingbird with your family or friends.  Even just telling this story is a type of simple action you can do.

Most scientists around the world agree that the future of humanity will be in danger if global warming continues at this rate.  In 1997, country representatives and NGOs met at Kyoto and made a commitment to prevent global warming from progressing. This led to the Kyoto Protocol, enacted in February 2005. Japan made a commitment to reduce its collective emissions of greenhouse gases to 6% below 1990 levels.  However, emissions have increased 8% since then, and as of 2005, Japan must reduce them by 14%.  Some experts feel that it is not enough to reduce just 6% of 1990 levels, and that Japan must bring emissions to half or less of the current rate.

Photo courtesy of Slow Water Cafe

Photo courtesy of Slow Water Cafe

Even though 6% may not be enough, the Kyoto Protocol is the first step for global warming countermeasures. Even though the first step is tiny, we need to take this first step. Can we cool down the earth as the hummingbird carried a tiny drop and dropped it on the forest fire? As we take steps to cool down our heated Earth, our little actions may fel like just ‘a drop in the bucket’. However, global warming itself was caused by a gradual accumulation of all our actions. What pumps out carbon dioxide emissions? It is said that industry accounts for 40% of carbon dioxide emissions, transportation for 20%, and household usage for 13%. Everyday, we make choices to consume commodities made by industry and use the services of transportation directly or indirectly.  Therefore if we make a change in our everyday life, this change can lead to a change in the future of our Earth. Even though our actions are tiny, they will lead to cooling down the earth. Why not start by carrying a tiny drop of water?


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