Introduction:Consideration for Today's Society
What should we do, and where are we heading?
Problems we are facing
We are now almost drowning in the ocean of a consumer society which prevails all over the world. Although we believed it possible to achieve a fruitful life, as a matter of fact, we face problems such as the decline of food self-efficiency ratio, insecure food safety, the destruction of the environment, the widening gap of rich and poor, and poverty. Each problem is too huge to be tackled by an individual so we have to unite with our neighbour and neighbour’s neighbour.
“Seikatsu Club”, is a voluntary association started in Tokyo in 1965 at the initiative of women who wanted to reform their lives and local communities as well as society. In 1968 Seikatsu Club was incorporated as Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Co-operatives which guaranteed democratic operation and management in order to promote the movement, continue business, and realize its goal. Since then, Seikatsu Club has expanded its activities under a motto of “autonomous control of our lives” including production-distribution-consumption-disposal, the environment, social services, and politics. Presently 29 Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Co-ops (affiliates to Seikatsu Club Union) in over 19 prefectures conduct independent and unique activities.
Pre-order collective purchase
As we want “safe food at reasonable prices”, we decide the specification (materials, production process, packing materials, environmental consciousness, etc.) of food and other consumer goods in cooperation with the producers, and purchase them by pre-ordering. This pre-order collective purchase system enables a well-planned production and supply, the purchase of safer food at reasonable prices, planning for producers, and minimization of waste of natural resources and environmental burden. We have demonstrated consumers’ rights to eat, and obligations to continue such action as a powerful influence.
Members participate in investment, purchase and operation to realize democratic autonomy by members. We are fully aware that our business as co-operatives is a movement to solve the problems raised in members’ daily lives, so we have promoted various other spontaneous movements. We are making an effort to reform the law structure which now segmentalizes organizations into either consumer co-op, or agricultural co-op, etc. We are also trying to make the national government establish measures for the promotion of co-operatives in order to build a society where any citizen can help solve problems autonomously by using various co-operatives as a tool.
Collective purchase model
Han (meaning “a small group”): order and purchase by group, where members help each other.
Individual delivery system: order and purchase by an individual member, various group activities such as childcare are developing within this system too.
Depot: shop-style collective purchase system in which members themselves conduct autonomous management/operation by means of members’ committees and workers’ collectives through ordering weekly, monthly, or annually, and various on-the-spot activities such as food education programs, and events with the producers.
Regional autonomy in operation/management
Seikatsu Club co-ops are independent organizations in each prefecture, managing and operating their movements and business. Furthermore, members’ autonomous organizations at local authority level make decisions and operate their daily activities. These Seikatsu Club co-ops form Seikatsu Club Union as an entity for collective purchase and development of new goods. Local Seikatsu Club co-ops also hand over to Seikatsu Club Union work to improve efficiency, such as ordering and distribution systems, IT systems, etc. Seikatsu Club Union is run by a general assembly and board of directors, meeting in participation with affiliated local Seikatsu Club co-ops.
Mutual Aid Business
In addition to various mutual support activities among the members of local Seikatsu Club co-ops, Seikatsu Club Union conducts a mutual aid business based on their common system. Local Seikatsu Club co-ops and related organizations also conduct non-profit or co-operative style businesses based upon their own local support systems, not only supporting their members. but extending to their local areas outside the clubs.
1) A “Han” meeting has the functions of bulk purchase ordering, exchanging cooking recipes, and talking about childcare and other community agenda.
2) Many members participate in the annual meeting of local a Seikatsu Club to discuss activities.Many members participate in the annual meeting of local Seikatsu Club to discuss activities.
3) The depot is the place where members purchase goods, conduct events with producers, and exchange information.
4) Typically, half the depot sales are fresh products such as vegetables, fish, seafood and meat, tying in with local producers for soy bean curd and bread.