Saturday, 19 January 2019

Great Grandmas?

I said I'd explain more about mottainai. 
Mottainai is a Buddhist term from Japan meaning "to have respect for the resources around you, to not waste resources, and to use them with a sense of gratitude"

It has become closely associated with the environmentalist mantra reduce, reuse, recycle with the additional term respect.
This concept has been around in Japan for centuries, but a Kenyan environmentalist, Wangari Maathai, introduced it to her own country and worked hard to make it known globally. For this, she was awarded a Nobel Prize in 2004.
Prof Maathai's work has made a significant difference across Africa, helping people change their attitude to waste.
One significant aspect of mottainai in Japan is that it has been handed down the generations, and particularly that older women teach their grandchildren.
Grannies chant the mantras to the children... Every grain of rice, every drop of water must be used with care and respect. Don't leave food in the bowl. Don't leave the tap running when you clean your teeth. Et ceter, et cetera. Mottainai Basan [Mottainai Grandma] is a Japanese children's heroine - with books and videos to teach the concepts. 
 Don't waste pencil stubs, tie them together to make rainbow crayons. 
 Eat every grain of rice in your bowl
 Use citrus peels to perfume your bathwater
[...or be like Kirstie Allsopp and make potpourri or Christmas decorations ] 
Many of these ideas seem reasonable, and I like the idea of being a mottainai-grandma for Rosie.
But I do draw the line at "if you get food on your face, I'll lick it off"  

[passing thought - if people stop using wetwipes, will we see a return to the traditional maternal custom of "spit on your Hankie and rub it off"?]
Those of us whose grannies came through the war years remember their "Waste not, Want not" philosophy. If we ourselves are in the granny generation, surely we can encourage the children in their efforts to go Plastic-Free/Zero-Waste? 
If you have 5 minutes to spare, look at these crazily enthusiastic grans getting their message across! 

AFTER SOME OF YESTERDAY'S COMMENTS, you may find this information about Charity Shops useful. Oxfam has its own recycling systems so UNSOLD donations are not wasted [see here] and many other CS [such as the Salvation Army] also use textile recycling companies. However there is a genuine concern that much of the clothing ends up abroad on 2nd hand clothes markets in the third world - impacting their own native clothing industries. Maybe the main problem is changing our attitudes to avoid over-purchasing in the first place?


  1. I love this concept of using the resources with respect and gratitude.

  2. I thought you would appreciate this concept, Bless. Your blog shines with the attitudes of respectfulness and thanksgiving

  3. Watching Jamie on food waste recently, I was horrified to see families shrugging off the fact that they throw away a third of their uneaten food. No idea about making soups etc.

    1. I am glad that people are at last beginning to wake up to the evils of waste.

  4. I had two grandmas who had lived through war times (one who lived during Stalin era in Russia) and spent most of my childhood with them; my parents were really young and had nothing at the beginning. Waste not want not - actually I was at schoold when I realized you can throw away things.
    It has never occurred to me to use wet wipes, not with my four kids (I got free sample of baby wipes, they were excellent for cleaning grease behind my stove). I thought dogs were for cleaning childrens faces from food :-) No, really, I have washed their faces under a tap.

    But, and this is a BIG but: this fear of not having anything has caused some awakening of my hoarder genes. Good bargains are hard to pass even if I know I will never use them.

    1. Yes, I agree completely - for many people the family experiences of poverty or deprivation is the root cause of Hoarding.

  5. Fantastic. I’ve just reposted on my Facebook page.

  6. This is a brilliant video and I LOVE that Japan has a term for this, frankly, essential attitude!!!


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