Nama Gomi

It’s often said that, rather than splashing out on expensive new appliances and fitting solar panels to our roofs, it’s the smaller changes we can make in our daily lives that will have an enormous positive effect on the environment. The act boiling a kettle, for example, may seem like a relatively harmless one, but – often because we boil more water than we actually use – we waste thousands of tons of carbon every single day simply by making cups of tea or coffee.

With that in mind, a new members-only cafe has recently opened its doors in the town of Osaki, Miyagi Prefecture, which uses energy from patrons’ kitchen waste to boil the water needed for a relaxing brew, making the green tea they serve some of the greenest in the world by far.

Situated in the parking area belonging to Naruko Onsen (hot springs), ene cafe METHANE is welcoming guests with bags of “nama gomi” (lit. “raw waste”), and in return giving them free cups of tea. The tiny little shop requires would-be patrons to become members first, but stresses that all are welcome and that they require only about as much kitchen waste as would fit in an everyday lunchbox to claim a free hot drink.

Using the biomass energy created from these waste products (which, don’t worry, is kept well away from the kitchen area!) the cafe is able to heat the water required to make hot drinks, with no additional gas or electricity required. Even better, the same kitchen scraps can be used to make liquid fertiliser for crops, meaning that the process is entirely cyclical: vegetables can be grown using the fertiliser, picked and eaten, then any husks, leaves, roots and the like can be turned into fertiliser to feed future crops of plants.

Sure, it’s only one little cafe, but very little helps, and we can’t help thinking that after a nice, relaxing dip in the onsen, a cup of hot, guilt-free tea would go down very nicely!

Cafe info
ene cafe METHANE
Naruko Onsen Yomogida 232-3, Osaki-shi, Miyagi Prefecture 989-6711
Press release (Japanese)

Source: Entabe, Tohoku University
Photo via Entabe