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10 Sustainable Eco-Businesses: Find A Hidden Green Tokyo

by S4G Staff | August 12th, 2022

10 Sustainable Eco-Businesses: Find A Hidden Green Tokyo


These 10 Sustainable Eco-Businesses are Just the First in a Series

Sustainable businesses are important to me. They really represent the human spirit’s aspiration to materialize a better version of ourselves as individuals and societies. In particular, sustainable businesses are concerned with an aspect of ourselves that is connected and has some reverence for the wisdom traditions that preceded us, for civic responsibility, empowerment, agency, and the ability to ever so slightly change the course of culture.


Let’s explore the first 10 in a series of businesses that will be featured here, some of whom are Support4Good members.


Heralbony Gallery - Tokyo - 東京 - Iwate - 岩手県


For about five years I worked for a fashion company, and even though I might not be the most stylish now, I do have an aesthetic appreciation for fashion objects. Maybe it’s the artist in me. So when I found out about Heralbony, I kind of fell in love with both their product and their purpose-driven business model.


If you’re in Tokyo, you can visit them at their art gallery or their pop-up store near Ginza-Itchome Station, and you should, in order to get the full impact of their project. 


They work with autistic artists, and together with them, create beautiful, cheerful, and colorful scarves, bags, accessories, and garments. They also sell original art and art prints by their artists. Not only does it give their artists a way to thrive and an important role to play in society, but it also gives us, the consumer, two things. First, you can have truly fashionable items to own and secondly, you can learn from their innovative approach that there are still fresh and novel ways to do good for society by creating a popular and successful retail business.



Though Japan is renowned for its excellent cuisine, and you can find just about any type of food on the streets of most major cities,  if you’re in search of vegan or vegetarian food, you might be a bit disappointed. Thanks to companies like 株式会社松竹圓, pronounced Shochiku-en, finding delicious vegan foods and desserts is getting easier!


If you live on the north side of Tokyo, then you’re in luck, as the physical address of this vegan taste-making outfit is in Arakawa city.  For the rest of us, it might sound like a bit of a long trip to make just a vegan cake.  I want to note that these are not just ordinary cakes. Secondly, the location of Shochiku-en is not an issue because you can order online! 


Shochiku-en offers everything from Vegan Muskat Cake and Rainbow Cake, to savories like Taiwanese-style Vegan buns, frozen foods, and even some grocery items. 


I recommend the Rainbow Cake : )



The zori 草履, a Japanese sandal, is a highly aesthetic type of footwear commonly worn during traditional occasions in Japan, especially when wearing a kimono or yukata, during hanami 花見 or some other cultural or ceremonial activity.


These sandals are traditionally made from rice straw or lacquered wood, but Yoshimi Sakai of Maison Yoshimi has chosen to do something a little different. Instead of simply making zori to be worn with kimonos, she is bringing the two together into one by finding a new life for the old.  Maison Yoshimi reduces old, unused kimono into strips and with those pieces, weaves her zori from the remnants, creating traditional Japanese sandals in a whole new form, that are rich with color and history.


Thanks to an abundance of old kimonos in Japan and the fastidiousness of the culture, this re-purposing gives the kimono a new life in a fresh re-imagining of traditional forms. 



There are many aspects of Japanese society that I admire and think it does exceptionally well at. One of those areas is in the way people with debilitating disabilities can find supportive work opportunities and novel outlets for creativity and exploration. Like Heralbony, Chocolabo is successful and finds its purpose through the employment of people with disabilities.


To do what? you might ask. The manufacture of delicious, artful, and one-of-a-kind chocolates: Petit chocolate white sesame, Petit chocolate rock salt, 8 stick mandian, 20 pieces of dried fruit chocolate… is your mouth watering yet? Find Chocolabo offerings online or head to their workshop in Center Minami, Yokohama, to get the whole picture of what they do, and the cheerful spirit in which it is done.




Nonprofits and Online Shopping: A Partnership to Benefit All

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The responsibility for advancing progressive cultural transformation falls on anyone who feels a calling to make an impact in some way, but companies are uniquely enabled to operationalize and multiply the effects of their efforts to encourage cultural reforms.


No Plastic Japan is one of the leaders in the space of educating and making available alternative products that we usually buy in plastic form. Products like straws that are famous for causing death and destruction in the oceans are just one example of what No Plastic Japan offers a non-plastic alternative to. They have an online shop on their website, but also partner with a wide range of existing brick and mortar retailers to make their products more widely available. 


Find them at one of these retailers near you.



Support4Good offers a way for online shops like the ones found here to partner, through an affiliate relationship, with nonprofits to increase their impact even more. When I first started to look for companies I’d like to invite to the platform, one of the first I found was Plasticity, but I’ve been too shy to approach them still! One day… one day.


One of the most effective of the 10 Sustainable Eco-Businesses, Plasticity’s solution of tastefully upcycling old plastic umbrellas, which are a huge source of waste in Japan, is so elegant and the value immediately realized, that I think they ought to be a household name here, and they are on their way.


To give their plastic bags and accessories a signature look, they press together several layers of umbrella plastic creating a “glass rain” effect. 


If you’re interested in tasteful fashionable clutches, shoulder bags, etc., you should stop by at one of the locations where their bags are sold.




Now, this one is a real gem. For those of you who have any leftist radical streaks in your bones, Irregular Rhythm Asylum is an anarchist/leftist infoshop located in a 2nd-floor space north of Shinjuku Gyoenmae station. I did my fair share of resisting destructive global development projects, the disenfranchisement of indigenous peoples, and generally speaking out against systemic injustice and exploitation in the US when I was younger. Knowing where an infoshop is in any city is part of how I feel at home in a place.


So I was absolutely delighted to know this place. It is a bit like a club of people “in the know”, not a store so much that you just go and shop (although you can do that). So if you want to visit, I suggest you bring an open mind and a dose of respect and humility with you. Once in, there isn’t just the bookstore, you may also have a chance to get involved with an art project or some other creative endeavor.




Returning again to the topic of my time working in fashion, when I first moved to Japan in 2012, I went to work every day in the Harajuku and Omotesando areas. At that time, back in 2011, having moved to Japan from Los Angeles, I had a certain expectation for finding a natural food store somewhere in a giant city like Tokyo. Fortunately for me, right around the corner from Omotesando station is one of Tokyo’s most well-established health food stores, NaturalHouse.


I always think things like packaging can be less plastic, but if you are looking for healthy, wholesome foods, organic produce, hand-made delicious macrobiotic snacks or eco-detergents, supplements, and the like, you have to enjoy the offerings at this oasis in a desert of delicious, but meat-obsessed Japanese food.


You can even have a buffet lunch there, and on top of that, you can sit in a cozy environment and eat it there, complete with dessert if you’d like. 




Another highly refined upcycling brand, Nozomi Project again hits the bullseye. Like Plasticity, they have identified an abundant waste resource that has high aesthetic and functional potential, in this case, old ceramics.


Nozomi Project jewelry is tasteful, the shapes they isolate from the raw material of the ceramic they have sourced are well-placed, as is the execution of the settings that mount these traditional pieces of ceramic on and in the contemporary context of the people who adorn their bodies with these objects.


My only concern is that one day, there won’t be enough traditional ceramicists to support upcycling businesses like these. As fun as it is to innovate on top of tradition, and it is a high value culturally to preserve tradition in new forms, it is always important to continue to support and purchase traditional Japanese craft to keep it and the people who make it alive and thriving.




For true cultural shifts to happen when it comes to our daily habits and activities, it is not enough to offer eco and sustainable products in the marketplace. What is required first is to attract people to the idea of positive and sustainable reform. 


Sustainable Living Tokyo’s goal is to educate people about the many benefits of living sustainably, both materially and spiritually, and then to provide a pathway to source sustainable products as well. I am a fan of the direction this organization is taking and look forward to seeing where and how it evolves in the future. 


For now, their primary offering, I believe, is group sustainability coaching/training and their online shop, as of January 2022, is in the works. Look out for them.




Tokyo, as a large city, puts space between

The abundance of sustainable eco-businesses in Tokyo is many and is always increasing. The difficulty is there is no village or district that embodies these values expressed through product offerings like the ones featured here.


So it becomes important to find a great variety of ways to bring lots of small independent projects like these together. Events and symposia are great ways to do this, expos another, and with our lives on the internet being firmly established now, online communities are important too. Support4Good is yet another expression of this impulse to reach out and bring together community. 


Happy sustainable shopping!

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