Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Who wants to grow one on MY balcony?

A woman checks the growth of goya and "togan" winter melons on a green curtain at her home in Kasugai, Aichi Prefecture. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Japan's largest daily newspaper reported today that nonprofit groups and local governments, in order to encourage more businesses and households to conserve energy, are distributing free vine seeds and plants for growing natural sun shades for windows and exterior walls. These 'green curtains' are not a new concept, but recent events (earthquake, tsunami, nuclear disaster, power shortages) appear to have heightened interest. (It gets beastly hot here in the summer, and it has become, shall we say, unfashionable to blast the aircon.)

As a testament to the effectiveness of the practice, toilet manufacturer TOTO Ltd. reports that its own swath of "goya" (bitter gourd), "hechima" (sponge cucumber) and morning glories planted outside its Oita plant helped reduce indoor temperatures by an average 2 degrees and at times as much as 5 degrees last year. Not bad, I say -- not bad at all.

Read the Asahi Shimbun article online here.

photoElementary schoolchildren in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, harvest gourds and goya from a green curtain covering their school last fall. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

photoForeign ministers from Latin American countries study a green curtain covering a wall at the ward office building in Tokyo's Suginami Ward in September 2010. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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