Civil Society

June 1, 2015


Student NPO Making Social Contributions in Japan and Bangladesh with To2Bag Project

Keywords: Civil Society / Local Issues 

Photo :To2Bag
Copyright S.A.L. All Rights Reserved.

The Japanese concept of "kawaii" -- meaning lovable, cute, or adorable -- has become somewhat of a cultural message worldwide. Triggered by the kawaii concept, a student non-profit organization called S.A.L, launched the To2Bag Project to enhance awareness of the value of social contributions. What are the students doing?

On March 21, 2015, as one of the To2Bag projects, S.A.L., which is authorized by Keio University, held a workshop in collaboration with Lee Japan, a brand jeans company also well known for its ethical business activities. The workshop, where participants dyed Lee's T-shirts and the original bags produced by To2Bags, aimed at expanding their activity by gathering more participants using "kawaii" as an incentive and increasing the popularity of To2Bags.

S.A.L. stands for the philosophy of "Send Out" (share international issues), "Aid" (support people who need help), and "Learn" (realize, learn, and understand the reality of the world), and aims to further understanding of international issues and inspire other students. As main activities, they hold events, publish free magazines, make documentary films, and make goods, by looking at world issues in study tours and considering what they can do.

The To2Bag Project in Japan sells To2Bags manufactured in a factory in Bangladesh under the concept of "Students innovate social contributions through social bags!"

To2Bag is a coined word to convey the meaning of "To Bangladesh, To Japan." "To Bangladesh" contains the meaning that they aim to realize stable wages for workers and create new jobs by improving working conditions in Bangladesh, which leads to more financial independence of the workers.

Photo :To2Bag
Copyright S.A.L. All Rights Reserved.

"To Japan" represents informing Japanese students of a new form of social contribution and international cooperation that is not just one-way support, such as volunteering or sending donations, but a support that helps solve poverty problems through sustainable businesses.

About 70 participants in the workshop tried their hand at dyeing, alternating between smiles and serious looks. Moreover, through dialogue between the directors from Lee and the students, and an introduction about the bag manufacturing factory in Bangladesh, the S.A.L. members shared their thoughts about the project with the participants. The profits from the participation fees will be used to create better working conditions for the factory workers.

One of the participants who tried dyeing said, "I was able to dye well because I asked a person from Lee about dyeing and colors. I enjoyed chatting with him too!" Another said, "I really enjoyed just making unique Lee T-shirts, and I felt closer to fair trade after learning how it works." The participants seemed to have enjoyed themselves and be inspired by the opportunity to make a social contribution.

There was favorable feedback after the workshop. "It was a marvelous opportunity to listen to the president of Lee." "It was great to learn to see things from different angles and ask more questions about things, as I otherwise tend to just believe what I hear and see." The participants gained inspiration from the event and learned to think more independently.

Photo :To2Bag
Copyright S.A.L. All Rights Reserved.

In the To2Bag Project, Japanese students are trying to realize sustainable independence of workers in Bangladesh by creating new jobs there, and informing people of the reality in the world through workshops and other projects. We hope taking such concrete actions will help make the world a better place.