Mottainai: On the Art of Not Wasting

The Japanese Mottainai philosophy describes appreciation and respect for our resources. We show how the concept promotes sustainability in everyday life

Mottainai japanese life concept

Author: Sara Marie Lau

The Japanese Mottainai concept teaches us to be careful and responsible when dealing with all resources. And that's not a new phenomenon. After all, the western world has been inspired by Japanese influences for centuries. Simple wood prints have shaped modern graphics and Zen gardens inspired the reduced design of minimalism - be it in design or clothing. With her spark of joy, Marie Kondo recently showed us that it is easier to live tidily, that we have a relationship with objects and that we need to maintain them.

Mottainai - what exactly is behind it?

Mottainai is about a conscious examination of objects, their use, lifespan and the resources used. The concept adds a fourth R to the well-known 3 R's: Reduce, Repair and Recycle: Respect! Respect for the waste and use of our available resources.

Translated, Mottainai means "the regret of waste". And it doesn't just describe a haunting word, but rather an attitude that can help us to understand the idea of ​​sustainability even more profoundly. While Wabi Sabi is about appreciating and even emphasizing imperfection, Mottainain is about regretting waste itself. What sounds slightly pessimistic at first, is in truth an attitude and an attitude to life with which sustainability can be carried through everyday life very easily.


The full use of all possible uses:

Starting with responsible consumption,
the recyclable packaging,
multiple uses,
mindful consumption
and the full utilization of the available recyclable materials.

That means: The Mottainai concept teaches us to use the limited resources as efficiently as possible.

Mottainai: The Doctrine of Appreciation

Despite all the wonderful ancient wisdom, Japan also has problems with overproduction and waste. The Mottainai concept is therefore currently being consciously breathed new life. In addition to international campaigns, there is even a game for children in Japan that teaches the youngest how to use limited resources consciously.

If the Mottainai concept teaches us one thing, it is the appreciation of all resources. It reminds of the transience of being and the constant change and further development associated with it. It teaches a responsible and creative handling of what is already there. The T-shirt can find a new vocation as a cloth, the can is reborn as a flower pot and high-quality materials and their diverse uses with several life cycles are taken into account from the start. The principle: promoting healthy consumption and no waste.



Always informed about the latest lifestyle trends, architecture, design & interior, as well as current technologies around sustainability.

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