I found a great coffee shop on Naoshima island off the coast of Okayama prefecture- a hidden example of sustainability in business.
It takes only 10 minutes to reach Naoshima island from the Okayama Uno port, but it is technically in Kagawa prefecture.
This cute shop is run by 2 friendly entrepreneurs combining their passion for coffee and toast with creating upcycled products our of disused denim. In the video interview, the owner explains that when he worked in the Okayama denim trade, he noticed there was a lot of waste once the denim was cut into jeans. He saw an opportunity to change that excess material into a new, useful, desirable product = #upcycling
Not only are they using wasted denim to make products, but the cafe is also run out of an old Japanese house- creating a business in rural areas like this out of a house that would not be in use, providing a needed service for visitors (we all love coffee and toast!), while generating revenue for the area, while (most importantly) making a living doing something you love and feel passionate about- perfect!
Room to Improve
There are some things this cafe can improve in terms of sustainability. All of the coffee is served in disposable cups and lids even for those who eat-in and despite the shop selling cute designs of their cafe logo on high-quality mugs. When I mentioned this waste issue, the owners were reluctant to change any routines that would create more work for them especially at times when it was busy. I also suggested the addition of Avocado Toast to their toast lineup to tap into an international health trend and to provide at least one option for #vegan customers.
All in all, Akaito coffee shop is worth seeking out and they serve great coffee and stock unique upcycled denim products any denim fan will love.
Akaito is a great example of a business in Japan following through on sustainability-driven initiatives without realizing its advertising potential. The upcycling aspect is as a part of the shops unique branding. Discovering sustainability initiatives at small businesses in Japan give me great Joy, there are so many ideas, strategies, and solutions once you look for them!