TOMODACHI Alumni Regional Framework Welcome Event in Kanto Region: Combating Food Waste Starts with Awareness
On Sunday, May 12, 2019, the first regional event of the year,‘TOMODACHI Alumni Regional Framework Welcome Event ‘ Kanto Cooking Gathering, was held in Tokyo. Led by Regional Mentor Kenji Negi and Regional Leader Shunsuke Watando, a total of ten participants, ranging from high school and college-aged TOMODACHI alumni to TOMODACHI staff gathered at a rental kitchen in Shimokitazawa to mingle while making delicious temaki zushi, or hand-rolled sushi.
At the same time, lively discussions were had about the kinds of content the TOMODACHI alumni community in the Kanto region would like to see at future events. The conversation then pivoted to the topic of food waste, a topic Shunsuke Watando personally became interested in during his participation in the Youth Exchange Program. Participants recognized exactly how much food is being wasted in Japan across all sectors of society, from commercial to household settings. In Japan alone, over 28 million tons of food waste is produced annually, with 6.4 million tons still edible. To put things into perspective, the 6.4 million ton figure is more than double the total amount of food that is gathered around the world annually for food assistance programs. It is the equivalent of each person in Japan throwing away a bowl of rice every day.
The conversation then segued into a broader discussion centered on sustainability, with participants sharing what they can do to increase the awareness of sustainability among their peers, from park clean-ups to clothing swaps, to a formal visit to a recycling plant. Kenji Negi and Shunsuke Watando will use the insights taken from the event to plan an interactive Theme Event in the autumn that will continue to center around the theme of sustainability. One participant noted, “I was greatly inspired by the deep discussions we had around the topic of sustainability, as it’s a topic that resonates with all of humanity.”
The event was held as a part of the TOMODACHI Alumni Regional Framework, the TOMODACHI Generation Alumni Leadership Program supported by Prudential.