What is "mottainai"?

The “MOTTAINAI” Campaign and Prof.Wangari Maathai

The MOTTAINAI Campaign is an environmental project initiated by Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai. She was highly impressed by the Japanese word “MOTTAINAI” when she first visited Japan in February 2005 and proposed that “MOTTAINAI” should be used as an icon and keyword for environmental protection activities throughout the world.

“MOTTAI” is a Buddhist term referring to the essence of things. It applies to everything in our physical universe, suggesting that objects do not exist in isolation but are intrinsically linked to one another. “NAI” is a negation, so “MOTTAINAI” is an expression of sadness over the repudiation of the ties linking all living and nonliving entities. It is also a rallying cry to reestablish such bonds and reassert the importance of treating all animate and inanimate objects with great care.

The MOTTAINAI Campaign is a co-operation between Mainichi Newspapers and ITOCHU Corporation, two very well recognized entities in Japan. The Campaign promotes the realization of a sustainable society by spreading the “MOTTAINAI” word and the “3R (reduce, reuse, recycle) +R (respect)” concept to the mass. Through various activities such as licensing care-the-environment type products, supporting the CSR of various organizations, hosting flea markets and cleaning up waste at Mt. Fuji, the MOTTAINAI Campaign has already created great awareness and has donated more than 100 million yen to the Green Belt Movement (GBM), an NGO and an afforestation project founded by Prof. Maathai.

In 2009, the MOTTAINAI Campaign, along together with GBM, launched a special campaign called the “MOTTAINAI GREEN PROJECT”, a 3 year commitment to plant more than 200,000 trees in Kenya. This on-going project is being funded solely by the contribution of Japan and at the end of year two, has already surpassed the 200,000 mark. Many more trees are on its way.

In the years to come, the MOTTAINAI Campaign looks forward to expand its reach, outside of Japan, to the world, establishing “MOTTAINAI” as a globally comprehensive word.

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