By this stage of January, you’ve probably been wished a happy and prosperous New Year countless times, making somewhat belated good wishes from the team at Isonomia a little surplus to requirements. However, if any of our readers feels in need of a quick top up of good fortune for 2015, an urgent trip to Japan might be in order.
Every January, Osaka plays host to the festival of Toka Ebisu, in which prayers are offered up to Ebisu (the god of fishermen, workers and luck) for business prosperity in the year ahead. The highlight is the Good Luck Palanquin parade in which hundreds of celebrities, geisha and fuku-musume (‘good luck girls’) hand out lucky goods to visitors. Devotees can obtain a lucky bamboo branch from the Imamiya-Ebisu Jinja shrine, which is at the heart of the celebrations and whose history dates back to around 600AD. However, to get the full benefit, you have to decorate your bamboo with the charms sold at some of the many stalls that fill the surrounding streets.
To ensure Isonomia’s prosperity for the year ahead, we spent December gathering a healthy array of lucky blogs to hang from the sturdy bamboo of our website – but if you were too busy seeking out the more usual sea bream, oval coins and rice bales to drop in and see our decorations, what did you miss?
It is traditional that those honoured with selection as fuku-musume are showered with wedding proposals. While not readily mistaken for a ‘good luck girl’, the Isonomia author receiving the most attention in December was Mike Brown. His article dismantling the idea that waste is a source of renewable energy was far and away the most read of the month, as well as stimulating some great discussions on LinkedIn.
Some rather less typical lucky charms were offered up in our second most read article, described by one of our regular readers as “the best tongue-in-cheek message of the winter”. Steve Watson set about trying to imagine what the nativity might have been like had three wise waste managers taken the place of the kings from the East – in particular, what three rich gifts of their profession might they have brought in place of gold, frankincense and myrrh? While popular at Toka Ebisu, the Japanese beckoning cat did not, I’m afraid, merit a place on the list…
Deeply in need of luck last month was the European Commission’s Circular Economy Package, the topic of Dominic Hogg’s latest article for the site. He analysed the economic case against made the package by Business Europe – although repudiated by many businesses – and found it to be as fishy as last year’s lucky sea bream. It remains to be seen what the “more ambitious” version of the package we are promised later in 2015 might contain.
We were delighted to welcome a new visitor to our shrine, although one we had already worked with on crowdsourcing the questions for our Ad Lansink interview articles earlier in the year. Ranjith Annepu’s story about the recent history of waste protests in India showed just how seriously poor waste management can affect people’s lives. Whilst Scotland’s waste is managed far better, Peter Jones was on hand to remind us of the menace of waste crime, which threatens both environmental and economic impacts. His article reported on a piece of procurement guidance being prepared, designed to make it even harder for public bodies’ waste to end up into the wrong hands.
Whilst last year’s lucky Ebisu bamboo is supposed to be returned to the temple and burned, at Isonomia we find that our older blogs keep on bringing us good fortune. Amongst our most read pieces of the month was our November interview with Ad Lansink, in which the excellent inventor of the waste hierarchy answered questions about the relationship between the hierarchy and newer waste management concepts such as zero waste and cradle-to-cradle. And continuing to parade proudly through Isonomia’s streets after two years of use was Emma Gowing and Peter Jones’s survey of the best Christmas recycling campaigns.
Despite the Christmas break, the excellent and diverse articles last month helped to make it the best December on record for Isonomia – it certainly seems that Ebisu may be with us. We’re grateful to all those who tweet about our articles, and for the fascinating comments we receive, both on the site and on LinkedIn. We try to provide an informed but accessible viewpoint on a wide range of environment issues. Offering a platform for a variety of opinions and generating debate is what we’re all about, so if anything you’ve read here has floated your boat or struck you as fishy, please do tell us, whether by leaving a comment or with an article of your own.
Many of those who’ve written articles for the site started out just as visitors, and we’re always glad to hear from you if you want to pitch an idea. Whether you’re from Osaka or Oswestry, Warsaw or Woking, with your help we will create a space where thoughts on topics from across the environment sector can be expressed and explored, enabling communication and cross fertilisation of ideas.
The task of ensuring our prosperity and business success in January is already under way with a new article about Peter Jones’s travails with the Daily Mail, but we expect a trip to the Ebisu blog stalls to yield numerous other adornments. Chloe Bines will be returning to examine the prospects for commercial-scale energy storage to contribute to the growth of the renewables sector, and we expect her to be joined by a number of new faces. Ian Doyle has some thoughts to share on how we think about street sweeping, while Wayne Lewis will be talking Teckal. No doubt there’ll be more besides.
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