Earth Day Tokyo spreads, celebrates ‘green’ issues

by Kazuaki Nagata

Worldwide environmental campaign Earth Day 2010 kicked off its Tokyo events Saturday stressing environmental friendliness and food self-sufficiency, as well as celebrating the 40th anniversary of the campaign, which originated in the United States.

Thousands of people came to the 10th Earth Day Tokyo held in Yoyogi Park, enjoying music, joining various environmentally friendly activities and sampling organic foods.

“Self-sufficiency has been a key theme of the event,” said Yu Nakajima, director of the Earth Day Tokyo 2010 committee that comprises individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations, adding there are some new features this year.

For instance, huge panels that absorb heat from the sun are situated near the food court, and the energy captured is used to warm water for visitors to wash their dishes with after eating.

Earth Day began in the U.S. in 1970, when Sen. Gaylord Nelson declared April 22 to be Earth Day to raise the public’s awareness of environmental issues. Since then, the event has spread worldwide.

Earth Day Tokyo, which runs until Sunday, has become a major event in the capital and is expected to attract more than 150,000 people this year.

“It is a rare opportunity for citizens organizations to appeal to such a huge crowd,” said Nakajima.

He added that while Earth Day is just one environmental event, he hopes that people can learn some environmentally friendly steps by attending and incorporate them in their daily lives.

Earth Day Tokyo 2010 staff members encouraged visitors to bring their own dishes to eat food from vendors and to take their waste home with them, trying to achieve the event’s “zero trash” goal.