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I should like to buy some attractive go equipment and am wondering which choices are ethically acceptable, whereby I imagine that sustainability of ecosystems is more or less the only significant issue.

Can anyone give me any suggestions as to how far I can responsibly go, or information to take into account?

Details

High-quality equipment is made from various natural materials such as:

  • Slate for the black stones.
  • Clam shells for the white stones. (I am not sure about the species.)
  • Spruce, katsura, bamboo or kaya wood for the boards. (One piece, c. 42mm × 45mm × 15mm)
  • Mulberry, quince (karin in Japanese), kaya, cherry, keyaki or rosewood for better and beech, chestnut or bamboo for cheaper bowls.

The cheaper alternatives are:

  • Glass or plastic for stones.
  • Cheaper wood, plywood or plastic for boards and bowls.

I fear that the more pleasing the equipment, especially the stones, the worse their impact is, though probably many natural materials are better than plastic. Once bought, the equipment would of course have a long lifetime and, I hope, be passed on after my death.

I suspect that the slate is not a great problem, bamboo even less, some trees more so and clam shells the greatest.

To quote the Wikipedia article: Due to a single clam shell yielding only a limited number of stones (around three), white stones are expensive to produce. The clamshells used to make the white stones used to be farmed from Japan, but since the supply is dwindling, most clamshells are harvested from Baja California in Mexico. Go stones are lens-shaped, 22mm diameter and vary in thickness from 4mm to 12.8mm, high quality tends to mean at least 7mm; one needs about 180 white (and 181 black) stones.

Links

Selected edits

(With a significant impact on the information presented)
2018-05-16 20:30 Mussel (a mistranslation) replaced by clam (species still unclear).

  • Trade and import of various mussel shells is restricted or even forbidden. Even shells of conch cannot be imported to the European Union. There must be reasons for it. green-trade.org/?p=245 ec.europa.eu/environment/cites/info_souvenirs_en.htm The question is "Do you have it locally available and is there enough of it?" – Salt May 16 '18 at 14:27
  • @LShaver: I need to add detail! To quote the linked Wikipedia article: Due to a single clam shell yielding only a limited number of stones (around three), white stones are expensive to produce. The clamshells used to make the white stones used to be farmed from Japan, but since the supply is dwindling, most clamshells are harvested from Baja California in Mexico. Go stones are lens-shaped, 22mm diameter and vary in thickness from 4mm to 12.8mm, high quality tends to mean at least 7mm. They are, of course, not made from the the blue mussel, Mytilus edulis, usually eaten in the UK. – PJTraill May 16 '18 at 18:17
  • @LShaver: I have realised that I have mistranslated Muschel (which I had at the back of my mind) with Mussel, actually we are talking about clams! – PJTraill May 16 '18 at 18:28
  • @Salt: I have realised that I have mistranslated Muschel (which I had at the back of my mind) with Mussel, actually we are talking about clams! – PJTraill May 16 '18 at 18:29
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If you ship stuff from far away it increases the carbon footprint of whatever you buy. You could find some dark and light river stones in your local river, or find a beach and look for shells. Buying exotic material from far away places, regardless of how sustainable the material is not sustainable bc it creates a bigger carbon footprint to transport the material.

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