30 Things You Should Know and/or Will Love about Japan Series: # 10
These posts are written for Carrie, Pete, and Elvia for their imminent trip to Japan, but of course, anyone traveling to Japan or dreaming of traveling to Japan can enjoy.
#10 Trash Talk
Image Credit: http://blogs.afp.com/correspondent
In Japan, trash sorting and pick-up is serious business, as you can see from the above image. At first it's a bit overwhelming, but now when we go back to the U.S. in the summer, we're shocked by the amount we just "throw away", even with the recycling programs we have in Savannah and CT. In Japan, the major trash sorting categories (as understood by a foreigner) are: Burnable trash - this goes to an incinerator and is food scrap, non-recyclable paper, and other burnable items. Pura - this is plastic packaging - plastic wrap, plastic wrap from snacks, packaging from meat in the grocery store, and thin styrofoam, labels from PET bottles. PET - this is plastic bottles - mostly drink containers. But on this day of recycling, we can also recycle glass bottles, aluminum and tin cans. Non-burnable trash - Hard plastics, and other small (that can fit into a bag) non burnable items. While we can recycle A LOT, it is difficult to get rid of things (especially large things) you no longer want. You cannot just go to a dump and drop it off, or what was even easier in Peru, just leave it by the side of the road, where someone else would grab it or it would be collected with the trash. This is sometimes very difficult, especially because living spaces are so small in Japan. The only other frustrating thing about trash is finding a trash can in a public place (other than a train station) can sometimes be challenging. In Japan, people are really good good about cleaning up after themselves. We went to a big festival and were given tongs and trash bags to carry out our trash with us. Frequently, different groups (schools, apartment complexes) organize clean-ups where they don their gloves, tongs and a variety of different trash bags to collect trash around their neighborhoods.
Regularly we see people on Rokko Island picking up trash when they are out walking their dog in the morning, just because.
Japan is a highly populated country, and they have great systems in place for people to live in harmony as best they can. In Japan, people really respect nature and cleanliness, and everyone contributes.