After graduating from university in the U.K., Robin found himself in Japan working for a NGO and then as a consultant with the World Bank. So, when Robin attended the OYW summit in 2015, he was already working with humanitarian issues. But, he says that the 4-day experience lit a fire inside him. A lot of that “fire” came from Professor Muhammad Yunus, one of One Young World’s most dedicated Counsellors. The idea that business could be repurposed for social good rather than simply pursuing profit for the purpose of shareholder wealth created a new view of the world for Robin. He already knew the benefits and power that NGOs and NPOs have but was beginning to see new potential for business to create systemic change.
Once back in Japan, Robin went to work with renewed purpose and co-founded a platform for change called Social Innovation Japan. If there was a stage, Robin was there…talking about SDGs and social innovation. Wherever he spoke, it was clear as day that Robin was speaking in earnest. This was not a guy paid to greenwash or whitewash a given company’s so-called CSR initiatives. He was on a mission and he was building a following of like-minded people who shared the same passion for creating a responsible society.
It was supposed to be a well-deserved vacation with a friend. Paradise was calling. The beautiful islands of western Japan with crystal clear waters, abundant sea life and…tons of garbage…everywhere. How does this happen to such a beautiful place? This looked nothing like the pictures on Instagram. Robin was not only heartbroken, he was furious. After sifting through the trash and eventually cleaning the beach himself, he noticed that a majority of the trash was plastic bottles; PET bottles to be exact. The kind of bottles that billions of people use every single day thinking that they are recycling them after each use. Something had to be done.
Robin and his co-founder, Mariko, decided to take action. But, what could 2 people possibly do? Daily beach cleanings weren’t going to solve the problem. That was a band-aid solution to a massive global injury. They needed help and reached out to their trusted friends and colleagues. The only way to battle the problem directly was to focus on the source of the problem…the plastics themselves. If people could stop using plastics, recycling wouldn’t be necessary in the first place. And so, mymizu, was born. What if people had an app that told them where they could refill their own water bottles for free? Wouldn’t that eliminate the need to buy bottled water? And why were people buying bottled water in the first place? Japan has some of the cleanest tap water in the world!
Just for perspective, it is important to know that, as of the writing of this update today, mymizu has only been in operation for less than a year! It boasts over 200,000 locations in its app with users in over 40 countries. Everyone’s getting on the bandwagon from restaurants and cafes to corporations and local governments. mymizu is expanding its product offering and announcing new partnerships regularly. But, the challenge is enormous! Over 1 million plastic bottles are used per minute around the globe with roughly 90% never reaching the recycling process and ultimately ending up incinerated, sent to landfill, or on that beach you’re planning to visit again soon. One Young World Japan is honored to have been a part of Robin’s journey and we encourage all of you to visit their site, download their free smartphone app, buy their eco-friendly products, and support a more responsible lifestyle.