Eco Ideas

Staying Cool In Summer And Warm In Winter

Heaters and air conditioners make us more comfortable, but they also consume a lot of energy. This leads to high levels of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere, causing global warming. Let's look at some ways Japanese people are keeping warm in the winter and cool in the summer without damaging the environment.

Cool Biz and Warm Biz
Cool Biz and Warm Biz ("biz" meaning business) are the names of two campaigns in Japan that aim to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by encouraging people to use less electricity. Instead of wearing suits and ties in summer—and cranking up air conditioners—under the Cool Biz campaign people are wearing cooler, more casual clothes to the office. Likewise, the Warm Biz campaign in winter encourages people to wear sweaters and other warm clothing so that they don't have to turn up the heater so high.


You can cool off in summer just by sprinkling water on the road or in your yard. Simple, isn't it? In Japan this is a traditional practice called uchimizu. If you sprinkle water on the ground when it is hot and sweaty, you can lower the temperature by 2 to 4 degrees Celsius. This is because when the water you scattered evaporates, it carries some of the surrounding heat away with it—very refreshing!

Japanese people also use reed screens over their windows. They keep the hot sun out while allowing cool breezes to pass through. Although there are lots of different varieties, the screens are usually made from thin plant stems bound together.

Have you ever seen a wind chime in summer? They chime like little bells when blown by the wind. Just hearing the sound of a wind chime can make you feel refreshed. How about handheld fans? They're a way to stay cool without using electricity, and many Japanese people use them in summertime.


Designer Hot Water Bottles
While Japanese summers are very hot and humid, winters are cold, especially in the north of the country. Lots of eco-friendly products are available to warm you up in winter.

Hot water bottles are one example. These are oval-shaped thermal containers, about 30 cm long, 20 cm wide, and 5 cm thick. All you do is pour hot water into them, wrap them in cloth, and put them under your blanket at the foot of your bed. They stay warm for several hours. The most popular hot water bottles are the ones decorated with cute characters.

It's important to keep warm around your middle, and the perfect way to do this is with a haramaki, or stomach band. Haramaki are circular bands of fabric worn around your abdomen. People have been using them since olden times, but until recently young people saw them as old-fashioned. But these days haramaki come in lots of different colors and fashionable designs, and this has made them popular among young women and girls. Haramaki are good for the environment, good for your health, and economical too!