Written by Shota (Japan / Class of 2020)
Each year, over 620,000 tons of food is wasted in Japan; enough to feed almost a million people for an entire year. When we first heard this statistic, we were imbued with a want to try and change this. With UWC ISAK Japan behind us, supporting us, we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to start a project called REシクル (Reshikuru) which works to reduce food waste in a few key ways. We harness one of the largest sources of food waste in Japan, rice bran, and upcycle it into a cheap and nutritious product. However, getting to this point of a real tangible product has been difficult.
In 2018, we first began as a team of three, not exactly sure what direction we would move in or what steps we could take to help solve this issue. But over the past few years and with the assistance of our mentor from IDEO, we’ve grown to a team of eleven and are now developing even more products to help address this growing food waste problem.
Throughout this process, we’ve found the lessons we’ve learned from UWC ISAK’s leadership curriculum truly manifest themselves in our project. One of the fundamental lessons we took out of the classes was that in order to design global solutions, a grassroots approach would be best for us.
Going into this project, we were still very uninformed of what was causing the issue of food waste within Japan, and part of our journey was interacting with people within the food industry to better understand it ourselves. What we found, was the true need to innovate and find new market areas where we can work to decrease food waste. Without taking action and discovering new methods to do so, it would be impossible for us to make the progress we have.
Despite the action we’ve taken thus far, we still need help moving forward to reach our goal. Because of this, we have started a Campfire crowdfunding campaign. We hope that with the funds raised through this, we will be able to realize our unified goal of reducing food waste and helping to shape a new food culture within Japan. We hope that our product will not only help raise awareness about this issue but also take tangible action and enable us to grow, further enabling us to address this urgent issue. The funds we acquire through the help of gracious donors will go towards kickstarting our production of rice bran furikake by subsidizing the cost of ingredients, production, distribution, and growth. Please consider checking out our Campfire campaign and helping us manifest our dreams!