Visualizing Sustainability for Japan

Trends / Sustainability
Yuri Endo
Jan 21, 2021
As a society, Japan’s respect for nature and minimalist traditions from the old days might push forward an image of being eco‑conscious, with an environmentally mindful commitment to sustainability. In reality, modern Japan is notorious for its plastic waste which is the second highest in the world, with only about 30% of the recycled plastics actually reused while the rest  is incinerated. With alternative energy unavailable, its dependence on fossil fuel and slow response to “Green recovery” drew international attention and has helped trigger a rethink in Japan, especially during Covid.
One of the potential silver linings of the pandemic is that Japanese consumers across generations are increasingly taking actions and placing a greater focus on choosing a more sustainable lifestyle – going plant‑based, producing less waste, taking up cycling and going on green camping trips. Our recent Visual GPS research revealed that 83% of Japanese consumers believe that the way we treat our planet now will have a large impact on the future, and 80% expect companies and brands to be environmentally aware in all of their advertising and communications, even when the products and services are not directly related to the environment. Bringing this theme into the visuals we use as a business is important, as consumers will be more likely to engage if we are demonstrating sustainable practices.  
In Japanese advertising and communications, we are seeing the bigger picture around the environment and climate crisis, especially big businesses showing their effort such as reducing, reusing and recycling to save the environment. Meanwhile, there is a growing number of individuals, platforms, communities and independent shops that are committed to advocating for the protection of both people and the planet. These personal messages are starting to resonate with consumers, inspiring them to gradually modify their lifestyle toward a sustainable one. To reflect this growing lifestyle, it is important to show everyone, young and old, and to show sustainable practices not only using reusable products but also composting, gardening for purpose and eco‑friendly vacations. Show how people are working together to create a more sustainable future, from small business owners to zero waste communities. As our data shows that more ethically conscious consumers are likely to pay four times more for a company that uses sustainable practices, visuals showing the small efforts we can implement to start creating a modern sustainable lifestyle in Japan will draw consumers in.  
Our data also shows that Japanese consumers want to see greater transparency. Almost three out of five want to know how products are produced, so including visuals which demonstrate sustainable practices are likely to resonate well. Show behind‑the‑scenes imagery to build that trust with Japanese consumers. Well‑placed illustration and computer generated graphics which show how sustainably a business creates products or services, and ethically sources materials can be very effective.

While the recent announcement by the Japanese government to be carbon neutral by 2050 lacks concrete details reflecting its commitment to facilitating use of renewable energy aimed at decarbonization, it is still a positive move. It is important to visualize the new ways in which industries are impacting real change for the environment of Japan—from the bigger picture to the smaller scale, in daily steps.
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