An Eco-Products exhibition held recently in Tokyo, Japan, attracted more than 100,000 visitors and no shortage of unusual inventions. The big-ticket item was, of course, Toyota’s fuel-cell car, which has just been leased to the Japanese government, but there were plenty of other forms of green ingenuity on display as well. These ranged from the mundane (energy-saving domestic appliances and Freon-free fridges, for example) to the downright odd (Nissho Engineering’s Tug Power phone charger, which uses a manual pull-cord to convert elbow grease into electricity). Solar products were also popular, and included sun-run garden fountains and domestic lighting, as well as a pocket-sized solar charger for cell phones, PDAs, and music players. The Eco-Products exhibition reflects a broader trend in Japan: The country has a strong corporate environmental record, with 10,000 companies earning the respected international environmental benchmark ISO 14001. For comparison, the United Kingdom boasts only 3,000 such companies.
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