The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun
Giving new purpose to items lost on trains, buses benefits consumers
Clever are the entrepreneurs who have gured out how to tap into the bottomless well of unclaimed lost items found on trains and buses. Some of these items are refashioned to increase their value, while others are sold at discount prices. Either way seems to bene t consumers without adding pressure to the supply chain.
In late October, unusual tote bags and pouches caught my eye at a store of the lifestyle brand O0u (pronounced ohzero-you) in Tokyo.
e items, made out of used plastic umbrellas, appeared durable, resistant to rain and dirt, and washable in addition to being attractive.
Mondo Design Co., a Tokyo-based bag maker, buys up used plastic umbrellas, most of which were lost on trains and went unclaimed beyond the railway companies’ retention periods. e company repurposed about 30,000 umbrellas in 2021 alone.
e umbrellas are rst disassembled, then their plastic panels are cleaned, stacked in layers and pressed before being sewn into something new.
e resulting tote bags and pouches are priced at between ¥5,000 to ¥15,000 each. Because they have unique designs with di erent patterns and textures, they are well received, especially by women in their 20s and 30s.
“Although it takes much time and labor to make them, we do it while being aware of environmental issues,” said an employee in charge of publicity at the company.
Railway companies have also begun to get in on the action.
In the past, Tokyu Corp. in Tokyo discarded many of the unclaimed lost items a er retaining them for certain periods. e amount of these items reached about 25 tons in scal 2020.
In December last year, the railroad formed a partnership with Booko Corp., a major second-hand goods retailing company headquartered in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture. Tokyu now sells books, earphones, watches, bags and other items, for which it acquired ownership a er their retention periods were over, at some Booko stores.
In June, Tokyu Bus Corp. started to follow suit.
Naoko Kuga of the NLI Research Institute, who specializes in consumer behavior, said, “With commodity prices rising, people are becoming more and more interested in the second-hand market.
“In addition to ea market apps and recycling stores, the increasing availability of unclaimed lost items in the secondhand goods market is bene cial to consumers,” Kuga added. (Nov. 8)