A Kyuusuiki (Bottle-Refillable Water Server) On Instagram!? Environmental Activist Mayuko Sasaki Interview Part 2

In Part 2 of Interview Vol.13, we will continue to share environmental activist Mayuko Sasaki’s activities. 

Part 1 introduced the reasons why she was interested in environmental issues, how she joined Team Kyuusuiki, and her experiences of installing the water servers in the University Hall.

Part 2 will feature the activities after installing the water servers: managing the Instagram account, participating in a WWF event, and her message towards society.

Q6. After installing the water servers, what did you do as Team Kyuusuiki?

   Our mission for Team Kyuusuiki was to install the kyuusuiki (bottle-refillable water servers), so after the installation, we wanted to encourage the use of water servers. Unfortunately, all classes were shifted to online, so we had to search for activities that we could work on. 

   A quote that one of the seniors had said stuck with me: “through installing the water servers, I hope people start to take environmental action both in and outside the campus, creating a positive cycle.” As I was thinking of what I can do during the coronavirus pandemic, I came up with the idea to use photography as a means to share the importance of the environment visually, since I love to draw and design.
(URL: https://www.instagram.com/watashiwakyuusuikidesu/)

Q7. When do you feel motivated?

   Some of my friends have approached me asking if I was the one who installed the water servers, or saying, “I didn’t have a water bottle till now, but I will buy one to drink from the water servers!” Of course I did not achieve this by myself, but I was delighted that my friends contacted me.

   Also, the social media followers mainly consist of freshmen (ID24) and sophomores (ID23) rather than direct friends, but I receive DMs saying things like “thank you for the delicious water.” I am grateful to have received words of appreciation through the kyuusuiki.

Q8. Why did you decide to personify the kyuusuiki?

   I thought it might help to regard the kyuusuiki as a friend. I also like things that stimulate the senses (ex. music and art), and discovering unique perspectives. Since there are many who cannot come to campus, I thought it would be interesting to take pictures of the ICU campus through the perspective of the kyuusuiki. Because of the situation, I thought the kyuusuiki would be lonely on its own, too.

   I have tried to imagine what it would be like if I were not interested in environmental issues, by looking at advertisements, instagram posts and articles on SDGs. When I saw the advertisements and articles, I felt that they were imposing their values when promoting environmental awareness and began to question their assertiveness. That was when I came up with the idea of appealing to the senses through photography and design, to appeal to a wider audience.

   After managing the account for several months, I realized that through personifying the kyuusuiki, people were able to recognize that an anonymous person was doing the work, and were finding it easier to support us. If this helps more people become environmentally aware in their daily lives, I believe it contributes to the positive cycle that the senior mentioned in Q6. Even a person like me without many connections can affect a lot of students, which I think is one of the benefits of anonymity.

Q9. What would you like more ICU students to know?

The first is gratitude. I would like to express my gratitude towards Professor Nunoshiba who suggested this project to me, and the seniors that initiated this project, as well as countless others that gave their support. I would like to thank the ICU Financial Affairs Group and the students that responded to the surveys and interviews. The newly installed water servers are a symbol of gratitude, which I believe is enough to ensure its widespread usage.

The second is: taking action, no matter how small it may be. I hope that one of those choices will be to use the kyuusuiki, and consequently carry a water bottle.

Q10. Please share with us your message towards society.

No matter what society you live in, it is important to turn your attention on things around you. Last year, Professor Nunoshiba suggested that I attend the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) student presentation. Personally, I felt that 2020 was a hectic year with many surprises, since environmental issues were affected in unexpected ways by the pandemic. Because we are increasingly using disposable items and focusing on hygiene because of the pandemic, I decided to focus on “the coexistence of the environment and hygiene.” Recently the term “green recovery” has been used to represent a post corona solution aiming to balance resolving the coronavirus pandemic and environmental issues. Pre-pandemic, bringing your own bottles meant respecting the environment, but there was a time when this service had to stop due to the pandemic.

So, what else can we do? Stay at home and make your own drink. It’s not only about bottles. You can make your own masks, rather than using disposable ones. Even during the pandemic, finding what you can do to resolve social issues is no different from before. In the future, when water servers are installed all over town and people use their own bottles, there will be less people buying plastic bottles from the vending machines. Then, when vending machines become unnecessary, electricity consumption will decrease, which will reduce CO2 and the consumption of plastic bottles. We can all take small actions in our daily lives, which can have a massive impact on changing the future of our society. 

Slides used during the WWF presentation

(From WWF “Sustainable Lifestyle Declaration 2020” Symposium event report, only available in Japanese)

Q11. What are you planning to work on from now on?

I am still figuring out my area of expertise, so I’m not sure… But, using my experiences in Team Kyuusuiki, I hope to continue my activities related to water, water bottles, and kyuusuiki, before and after graduation. Before the pandemic, we were thinking of hosting a stamp rally for new students so they know where the water servers are located. I hope to develop these ideas, so we can execute them once in-person classes are resumed.

Q12. If there is anyone interested in Team Kyuusuiki’s activities, can they DM you on Instagram?

Anyone interested in kyuusuiki, designing, or coming up with new ideas, please feel free to contact me!
Team Kyuusuiki Instagram Account: @watashiwakyuusuikidesu

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