Mottainai (Waste Not) (written by J )

In the last week’s class, we learned about the usefulness of the Japanese word “Mottainai”. It is an important word that has a lot of meanings. Mottainai is used when someone wants to save something that can still be used. It can also be an expression of wisdom that says, this thing that you want to throw away still has value. In English the closest words that match mottainai would be the expression, “waste not”.  This implies that that garbage or food should not be thrown away so carelessly. Another common expression that relates to mottainai in English is, “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure.” This is to say, that the things we throw away in the garbage may not seem to be useful to us but to someone else it is a valuble treasure.

However, we all still throw away a lot of things and make too much garbage. In many cases this is because we want something better. Another reason is because the cost of repair is more than the cost of buying a new replacement. So even though we try to remind ourselves not to throw away useful things with words like “mottainai” and “waste not”, there remains still a very large problem with our cultures wasting too much. To give these words more meanings we must consider them carefully and actually try not to waste so much. If we do not; words like mottainai have no meanings. (J)



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