Misleading the public – or, misleading me

Sustainability is not only something that should be on the minds of companies. But also on the minds of consumers. At least, that’s what I think (and admittedly, I’m a long way from being the perfect sustainable consumer – if that exists).

So, I’m also keeping an eye out here for what I see in the shops, out on the streets, advertisements etc – anything that can help me to discover how much sustainability is part of consumption in Japan (which is a country of consumers, much more than in Europe). This may be organic food, plenty of vegetarian choices (or even vegan food choices), fair trade products, fair fashion, etc.

Walking around Shibuya yesterday trying to find some great sushi (you would think it was on every corner in Japan… sadly, no), I was misled twice, thinking that I’d found something that fit this image.

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A very very common sight on the Japanese streets are convenience stores, small shops where you can buy pretty much anything you might need right then and there. Food and drinks mostly, but also magazines, and assorted other products. Lawson is one of the large chains for these convenience stores, and they pop up everywhere. However, I was surprised to see a new type of Lawson in the streets this time: Natural Lawson.

I walked into one last night to see what is ‘natural’ about this Lawson, expecting to find a store with only – or mostly, at least – organic or other fair products. The chain does have its own branding and its own packaging for products etc, so it’s not just a side-project I would think. However, in the shop itself I couldn’t spot much difference. Yes, there are a few shelves of snacks and food which look to be more from organic food brands. But the rest of the shop looked mostly the same as every other Lawson I’ve been in. I’m a bit puzzled why a seperate chain had to be set up for this, instead of incorporating the few shelfs of organic products in the regular Lawson’s. And probably increasing the chance of these products being bought.

So, I continued walking around still trying to find sushi. I was about to give up when I saw a huge sign of a restaurant called ‘Vege-Teji-Ya‘. A vegetarian restaurant in Japan… sounded promising enough to give up my search for sushi.

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Walking over to the restaurant, and getting a closer look at the advertisement and menu – imagine my surprise when somehow the name of the restaurant was anything but related to vegetables, but instead with just about every part of pork.

Sigh.

The sushi that I did find in the end was fortunately very good. Fortunately, especially, as it accidentally also turned out to be the most expensive sushi I’ve ever had. Oh well, another lesson learnt in Japan (i.e. if there’s no menu, ask for one to find out where exactly you walked into).

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