Green Asia: 10 ways Asian countries are getting more eco-friendly

Green Asia: 10 ways Asian countries are getting more eco-friendly

Asia is awash in heady innovations -- urine-powered batteries anyone? -- that help both the environment and the people
Green Asia
Seoul’s restoration of Cheonggyecheon Stream adds a green corridor to the urban landscape.

My earliest memories of Asia’s cities are of smog and sprawl. But the Far East is turning over a new leaf by implementing a range of green initiatives. Some of the world’s most innovative sustainable projects are unfolding right here and now.

1. South Korea: Recovering an ancient waterway

The US$900 million Cheonggyecheon project freed the historic stream from its concrete tomb. For the first time since the Korean War, families can watch carp swim through the middle of Seoul.

2. Japan: Energy conservation using snow

Now here’s a cool idea: Hokkaido sends truckloads of snow to warmer areas, where it’s used to reduce building temperatures.

3. Japan: Urine-powered batteries

When a NoPoPo (non-pollution power) battery runs dead, simply pee on it. The ions in urine cause a chemical reaction that produces electricity. Sold throughout Japan, these batteries can be recharged up to five times and are safe to dispose.

4. China: Songs and plays with environmental messages

China’s Dong people have a rich folk tradition, but possess no written language. So the Guizhou government created a program that uses songs and plays to pass on environmental knowledge.

5. Hong Kong: Plastic dollars

Don’t mistake it for Monopoly money -- in 2007 Hong Kong's $10 bank notes made their first appearance. Produced from polymer, the bills cost slightly more to make than paper notes, but last longer and save trees. Recently, China and Taiwan introduced similar 'green' notes.

6. Singapore: “Red Dot Goes Green” TV show

This weekly program on government-owned Channel News Asia encourages Singaporeans to reduce their carbon footprint. In the opening segment, a red dot bounces past skyscrapers, turning them bright green.

7. Philippines: Green trial courts

In January 2008, the Philippines designated 117 'greenie' courts to try environmental cases. Manned by special judges, these courts improve the speed and consistency of resolutions.

8. Thailand: Recycling used cooking oil to make biodiesel

In provinces such as Nakorn Sawan, not a drop of cooking oil is wasted. The household and restaurant byproduct is converted into biodiesel, which powers trucks and generators.

9. India: REVA’s electric car

REVA is India’s only electric car company. The family-owned business is mass-producing a two-passenger hatchback that sells for US$12,000.

10. Laos: Eco-school for villagers

Sustainable Laos built a self-sufficient school in Champasak province. Students aged 17 to 20 come from different villages. They learn techniques such as solar-drying of bananas and implement them in their home villages.

La Carmina writes about Harajuku pop culture and all things spooky-cute. She is the author of three books about Japanese pop culture and food, including "Cute Yummy Time" and "Crazy Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo" -- for which she did all the photos and illustrations. Both books were released in October, accompanied by a U.S. major city book tour.

For more, please visit her website.

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