In Japan, English-language newspapers are great sources of news and views and such (some more than others, of course). But a new use for them has lately arisen, with patrons of mini-trucks selling baked yaki-imo (sweet potatoes) in upscale Tokyo office districts thinking it trendy to receive their hot snacks wrapped in pages from the English-language press.

On a recent visit to Mita Library in central Tokyo, though, this writer was confronted with yet another use to which The Japan Times was being put — as the raw material for a shopping bag on display there in front of a poster announcing upcoming classes in making such bags to be held at the library in Minato Ward.

The staff of the public library said they decided to organize the event to encourage people to think about environmental issues through this practical and attractive means of recycling resources.