Posted April 4, 2005,
Japan for Sustainability: Gara-bo Aikokai, a non-profit
organization based in Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, has been
encouraging people to protect the environment by using detergent-free
cloths for washing dishes. The wash clothes are made from organic
cotton the NGO has planted in local fields. Once a center of cotton
production in Japan the fields had laid abandoned for several years
and the local industry has struggled as a result. The NGO hopes
the cotton grown without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides
will have the added benefit of boosting the local economy.
Using their past experience, about 40 elderly residents undertook
the task of cultivating and spinning cotton. The cotton is being
spun using a now obsolete method called “Gara-bo”. According
to water quality activist Ryoko Honda, they enjoy these activities,
believing that they are playing an important role in preserving
the local culture. The passing on of traditional wisdom and techniques
from the elderly is also developing the relationships between generations
in the community.
Children also participate in cotton harvesting. Fascinated with
white cotton, they handpick it with tender care. "I'd like
to preserve the authentic texture of traditional cotton for children,"
said Honda. The organization aims to produce one ton of cotton in