/suw

A reusable straw, made from Keihoku timber and coated with urushi. Something must be done about the problems facing mountains and forests. We don't want to throw things away. This is how the people involved in forestry and woodworking felt and we agreed. We began this project with the aim of creating sustainable craftsmanship.

Urushi improves durability and allows wooden straws to be washed and reused. From plastic to wood. We hope that through small choices, a lifestyle that closes the loop will spread.

Products that convey ideas

Yoshida-san of Yoshida Woodworks makes solid wood furniture in the town of Keihoku, Kyoto. We met in 2019 when he let us use his workshop as the venue for Tom Wegener's residency workshop 'Wegener Surf Stay in Keihoku'. Yoshida-san saw potential in the combination of wood and lacquer from the lacquer surfboards, and approached us with the idea of making reusable wooden straws. We wanted to spread the word about Keihoku and the challenges faced by the mountains and forestry industry. This was the starting point: to create a product that communicates their thoughts and feelings.

Waste wood is turned into straws

The straw's base is made from wood felled from the mountains of Keihoku. It is made from timber scraps that are usually processed into wood chips. When Mr Yotsuji of Yotsuji Lumber, who runs a forestry business in Keihoku, showed me around the mountains, I was heartbroken to see trees that had been felled by typhoons and heavy rain were left scattered across the landscape.These are magnificent trees nurtured by nature. Surely we can make better use of them than shredding them into pieces…
Seeing this dire situation first hand strengthened our desire to make straws.

Urushi techniques passed down in Kyoto

To perfect a straw that is durable and easy to use, days of trial and error ensued. First, thinly shaved wood is rolled into a cylindrical shape to form the straw. As the ends would become unraveled through use, Japanese paper was attached to the ends and hardened with lacquer.
Mr Takagi of Takagi Lacquerware, a Kyoto lacquerware urushi-coating company, finished off the /suw by applying techniques passed down through generations in Kyoto for making tea ceremony utensils.

Packaging that pollutes the earth as little as possible

Many people helped with the production of the packaging. We used leftover printing paper called shide, provided by Mr Yamashita of Shubisha, to avoid the use of glue or paste. The design was done by Kakefuda of Moonlite Graphics. The entire project was filmed by filmmaker Kamemura-san.

Urushi appeals to human sensibilities

Urushi, which is made of tree sap, forms a strong coating film while still containing water. It has a soft, yet firm, moist feel. The gentle, smooth feel is unique to urushi. We believe that urushi, which has been valued by the Japanese since the Jomon period, is a material that sharpens the human senses.

The Bears Wood project

A new project that Mr. Yoshida and his team are working on is the Bears Wood Project. The number of "bear strippings," in which bears use their claws and fangs to strip bark from trees, is increasing in the mountains of Keihoku. Trees that have been bear stripped grow so that new bark covers the wounds, revealing a unique grain. Until now, these trees have been deemed worthless as timber, but we wanted to take advantage of their unique and original grain as an art form.
We hear that bear stripping has increased because there are fewer opportunities for people to go into the mountains than in the past. Rather than demonizing bears, we wondered if we could solve the problem by creating new value ourselves. We are searching for a way of manufacturing that allows trees to circulate.

/Environmentally friendly things that will be created by continuing to use SUW

With the growing momentum of the SDGs, we are increasingly seeing the amount of CO2 (carbon dioxide) emitted in the production process of various products and in services. On the other hand, it is difficult to determine from a single number whether the amount of emissions is high or low, or how much is good for the environment. Therefore, we have expressed the "decabo score" for conventionally used polypropylene straws and /SUW, respectively, when used daily for two years. For more information, click here.

Gallery.
Credit

Yoshida Woodworking 

Camera & editing 

Yoshihiro Kamemura 

Package Design 

Moonlite Graphics Hanging tag

Supported by

four-way wood 

Shubisha 

Keihoku Forestry Association 

Tsujii Lumber Co. 

Itago Lumber Ltd. 

Forest of Craft 

Takagi urushi工 

Ono Tomoshi 

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