Event report

June 15, 2022

Circular economy pioneers engage nearly 300 people at FabCafe Nagoya

In the Loop Nagoya, ver. 01 event report

FabCafe Nagoya spearheads the circular economy movement in Tokai and beyond

Starting as early as the beginning of 2000, Japan has taken a bold approach toward circular economy, which shifts away from the linear “take – make – waste” model of consumption to design extended lifecycles for products and implement efficient reuse and regeneration of resources. 

The efforts to reach a sustainable society have but redoubled in recent years. In 2018, the Ministry of Environment joined the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) launched by the World Economic Forum, and since then has presented multiple initiatives related to food waste reduction, prolonging the lifecycle of textile products and helping tackle marine plastic pollution in ASEAN cities, among others.

It is in this context that FabCafe Nagoya has undertaken the mission of spearheading the circular economy movement in the Tokai region and beyond. A good example of this is the recent TOKAI Circular Economy Project,  a program offering expert lectures and prototyping sessions to design circular business models for the SMEs in the vibrant manufacturing cluster of central Japan.

A new home for In the Loop

To further spread and empower circular initiatives at all levels of society, FabCafe Nagoya recently became the new home for In the Loop, a grassroots community project launched by FabCafe Tokyo in partnership with Ekolokal to bring together individuals and businesses excited to boldly experiment with new materials, methods, and ideas about circular design and sustainability.

On May 18, In the Loop Nagoya vol. 1 staged a grand opening with 11 collaborators and nearly 300 visitors who gathered to imagine together what a different, better future might look like.

Read on to discover the highlights of the day through the voices of organizers, collaborators, and attendees!

The first volume of In the Loop Nagoya kicked off with the first of two sessions of the nokori-zome dyeing workshop organized by the 100-year-old dye manufacturer Tsuyakin, where participants drew their designs on handkerchiefs with soy milk and then proceeded to dye them using discarded coffee grounds.

There were several families with young children who shared their thoughts with us. Many appreciated the value of learning and coming to care about circularity through experience:

It is through first-person experience, when we are given the chance to do something using our own hands, that the true meaning of abstract terms like sustainability leaves a mark in our minds and hearts.

Other participants especially appreciated the opportunity to gather with a local community they knew about, but hadn’t had the chance to meet with until then.

I want my son to experience many things while he’s still young so that he can broaden his horizons. I know there are many fascinating people and projects in Nagoya, but until now we didn’t have contact with them. I’m glad that In the Loop has become a place where these exchanges and encounters happen, and I am looking forward to seeing the community grow in subsequent volumes.

While the workshop participants were busy painting and dyeing their masterpieces, other visitors made a beeline for the cafe counter instead. Considering many of the In the Loop exclusive food and drinks sold out very quickly, it was a wise strategy indeed! 

The special menu included upcycled bread crust beers by CRUST Japan, savory vegan pasta by CocoDeJapan, and vegan and gluten-free mousses by Ve Tree.

The varied array of vegan delicacies was completely intentional, and some visitors were intrigued about its relationship to circularity. In the words of CoCoDe Japan:

One of the biggest factors when starting our vegan food brand was watching documentaries about the animal agriculture and its huge impact on the lives of animals, the environment, and our health. Takeshi has always been a big animal lover and Wakana has been working as an advocate of sexual exploitation survivors, so it was only natural for us to shift towards a way of living that causes less pain or harm to other creatures. This is what “circular society” means to us. And thanks to the vegan community out there, those vegan influencers  helped us discover that 100% plant-based food can be amazingly delicious!

Their fresh pasta dishes became the absolute stars during lunchtime and elicited enthusiastic reactions:

I was very intrigued to find out what the vegan mushroom cream sauce tastes like. It’s easy to imagine a tomato or herb-based vegan recipe, but it’s much more difficult to get a truly creamy sauce without using milk or butter. This is definitely on par with, if not better than, traditional non-vegan pasta!

On the other hand, many attendants were surprised by the enormous food waste that results from discarded bread crusts:

900.000 tones annually worldwide? It’s incredible! And I didn’t know you could make beer out of them. It has a unique taste, it’s very good.

We were blessed with sunny, warm weather, so the picnic blanket on the lawn of Hisaya-Odori park, right in front of FabCafe, quickly became a popular spot to savor breakfast or lunch while enjoying the window art painted by Natsuki Shimizu (and his many diligent assistants).

Apart from the workshops and menu, visitors had the opportunity to browse a wide range of circular and sustainable goods pop-up stores, including bamboo combs and toothbrushes by MiYO organic, marine plastic accessories by sobolon, upcycled newspaper goods by Lune Lune, apple leather wallets and bags by LOVST TOKYO and fairtrade ornaments and snacks by meets.

At each booth, their respective makers lively chatted about the values, goals, findings, and challenges behind their projects, which in turn helped shatter stereotypes among visitors. In the words of a Nagoya University of the Arts student:

Before coming here today, I had this image of sustainable products as fancy and expensive, unrelated to my daily life. After hearing the makers’ stories and motivations, my point of view has greatly changed and I feel it is a way of life much closer to me now.

On the other hand, In the Loop collaborators also gained on the spot feedback from visitors, which sparked new ideas and renewed inspiration:

Some visitors mentioned that our plastic earrings shone like glass under the sunlight, which was a beautiful, moving appraisal. Others were truly interested in knowing our creation process, and this made us realize organizing a workshop might be a good idea. We also met many students from the Nagoya University of Arts and Sciences and we want to start a collaboration with them. (sobolon)

Today I realized there are lots of people doing amazing things in Nagoya. Visitors didn’t just come, buy and leave. They shared their own ideas and projects with me, and their energy was almost overwhelming… Thanks to that I have made several new connections. It has been a truly encouraging and stimulating experience.(MiYO organic)

Furthermore, a few of the assistants were business owners or project leaders currently planning on making their workplaces and products more sustainable. They came to In the Loop seeking inspiration and like-minded peers, which they found:

I’m working on a plastic upcycling project in my own company. We are trying to figure out: ‘What is it that we can do?’ After taking part in the workshop and talking to the different pop-ups, I couldn’t help but think ‘there are so many opportunities for collaboration here’.

​​I’m currently developing a plastic umbrella share system in Nagoya. 70% of plastic umbrellas are thrown away in Japan, which results in great plastic waste. Today I felt I had many things in common with these projects and it was a great inspiration for me.

What is In the Loop? It is a place where you can discover the inspiring projects your neighbors are up to. A place where you can enjoy great food and talk about what you care about and why. A place where you can make new friends while enjoying a fun picnic. A place where your ideas are heard and supported. A place to renew the motivation for your own projects and goals, and to become a source of inspiration for others around you.

We feel that many meaningful connections were born today at In the Loop. (Lune Lune)

Whether you are a student, a journalist, an artist, a farmer, a parent, a businessperson… Join us! For this is where we come together to create a gentler way of living on this planet we call home.

Do you want to become part of In the Loop Nagoya? 

Reach out to Producer Yumi Sueishi at yumi.sueishi@fabcafe.com if…

  • You want to participate as a collaborator.
  • You want to facilitate a workshop.
  • You want to co-organize a circularity-centered project or event.
  • You want to feature In the Loop and other circular economy-related projects and events in media channels such as newspapers, magazines TV, radio, or blogs.

We look forward to hearing from you!

  • Rio Kudo

    Loftwork Creative Director

    Rio is from Akita Prefecture in Japan and graduated from Tsuda College. She studied multicultural coexistence and international cooperation, specializing in entertainment/leisure and international cooperation. After returning to Japan, she studied music under the theme of SDGs, directed a Music Festival under the same these and began her work as a communicator for SHIBUYA QWS. Her hobbies include mountain climbing, organic vegetable gardening, and exploring permaculture.

    Rio is from Akita Prefecture in Japan and graduated from Tsuda College. She studied multicultural coexistence and international cooperation, specializing in entertainment/leisure and international cooperation. After returning to Japan, she studied music under the theme of SDGs, directed a Music Festival under the same these and began her work as a communicator for SHIBUYA QWS. Her hobbies include mountain climbing, organic vegetable gardening, and exploring permaculture.

  • Kelsie Stewart

    FabCafe CCO

    Kelsie joined Loftwork and FabCafe in 2017 and oversees the FabCafe Global network. In FabCafes across Asia, Europe and America, Kelsie strategizes and aligns Fab synergies to empower everyone to take the initiative to make and share their ideas with local and global communities. Kelsie is also the Tokyo organizer for the Global Goals Jam (GGJ), a two-day designathon and community which aims to create short term solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals. Kelsie has organized sustainability and design thinking workshops in Tokyo, Bangkok and Hong Kong.

    Kelsie joined Loftwork and FabCafe in 2017 and oversees the FabCafe Global network. In FabCafes across Asia, Europe and America, Kelsie strategizes and aligns Fab synergies to empower everyone to take the initiative to make and share their ideas with local and global communities. Kelsie is also the Tokyo organizer for the Global Goals Jam (GGJ), a two-day designathon and community which aims to create short term solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals. Kelsie has organized sustainability and design thinking workshops in Tokyo, Bangkok and Hong Kong.

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  • FabCafe Global Editorial Team

    This articles is edited by FabCafe Global.

    Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on this article with us.
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    This articles is edited by FabCafe Global.

    Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on this article with us.
    Contact us

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