Fourth-year university student Aruha Hamamura begins and ends most days on his surfboard at Kounohama Beach along the coast of Mie Prefecture’s Shima Peninsula, an area known for the Grand Shrines of Ise and the ama freedivers who ply the nearby waters in search of ocean creatures including the region’s famed pearl oysters.

When not surfing or studying, he works part-time as a barista at a coffee stand in CO Blue Center, a beachside complex that also houses a sauna, an ecologically oriented library and information clearinghouse, a marine agri-tech company and spaces for art exhibitions, satellite offices and co-working. Hamamura lauds CO Blue for its flexible working conditions, but he was also drawn to the center by its eco-friendly ethos of addressing problems such as ocean plastics, deforestation and the looming food crisis.

One initiative that particularly excites him is Re:COIN, a program that upcycles plastic beach trash into “coins,” which can then be redeemed at nearby businesses. The more beach trash you bring to CO Blue, the more coins you can get in return.