Turning lessons of environmental diary into an eco newspaper

A graduate of GC Japan’s Green Lane diary programme has turned the lessons he learned about environmental sustainability into an Eco newspaper.

Masaki Yoshinori, a 10th grade student at Himeji Senior High School took part in the 3 month diary programme during elementary school, even winning the gold prize as a 6th grader in 2006. During the programme, he created an eco newspaper with the help of his younger brother and friends, who are also graduates of the programme. Running for 5 years and 38 editions, the “Brothers and Sisters” paper is distributed to municipal offices, the Ministry of Environment and environment organizations as well as his friends and neighbors.
The paper is a mix of stories on eco-activities as well as opinion pieces on sustainable living. Below is an opinion piece from the paper, titled “My Eco-life” by the founder, Masaki Yoshinori, that focuses on the critical issue of water. The essay was originally done for a school assignment but Yoshiniori included it in the paper in the hopes of raising awareness about the diminishing supplies of this critical resource.
My Eco Life
Do you know ‘virtual water’? We need water to grow vegetables and domestic animals. In our daily life we use water to wash, to boil and to cook vegetables. However, we need a lot more water to grow them. To raise domestic animals, we need a lot of grass and a lot of water to grow the grass. So before we eat food, we use a lot of water. This water is called ‘virtual water.’
Japanese self-sufficiency for food is low. We import a lot of foods from other countries. Importing foods from other countries means importing water from those countries. In fact, Japan imports 8 billion liters of water in a year. But do we really need such a large amount of water? Is there any way to save water?
My family grows many kinds of vegetables in our field. We use the rainwater to grow them. When it doesn’t rain, we pump the water from the ditch. It is hard work. We know that we need a lot of water to grow vegetables. So we don’t waste food. Not wasting food leads to decreasing the garbage and preventing the drain water from getting dirty. In order not to drain dirty water wiping the dirt before we do the dishes also helps. In addition, my family doesn’t waste any water. While we wash our face and brush our teeth, we turn off the faucet. When we wash our clothes, we use the water left in the bathtub. These are our version of ‘eco-life.’ We think its important that we should try not to use more water than is necessary and not to drain dirty water, because cleaning the dirty water also needs a lot of energy and water.
Clean water is not an unlimited resource. In fact some countries in the world are suffering from serious shortage of water. Japan is also responsible for it. I think there are many things we can do to save water. When small actions are accumulated it leads to ‘eco.’
The Green Lane Diary is a curriculum linked education programme designed to educate children on the stresses our planet confronts and how sustainable living can make a difference. The diary programme helps shift budding environmental values developed through learning, into practical eco-friendly activities in kids’ everyday lives. 
Started in 1999 in Japan, the project is now in Japan, Sri Lanka and Australia. Elementary school children are encouraged to keep a diary for 10-12 weeks on their ecological activities and environmental impact. By reporting their day’s environmental impact, each child learns about his or her place in the ecosystem and also establishes positive behaviour regarding such matters as water conservation or rubbish recycling.
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