Before I talk about the intended topic, Garbage in Japan, I need to lay the foundation with two fundamental truths:
1) I love Japan. I love the people, culture, food, country. It’s pretty fabulous here and very good living.
2) I’m not very good at chores. Probably why I quit the Naval Academy. I haven’t made my bed since 1991 (except today when my Facebook friends wanted pictures of my apartment). But I am REALLY bad at taking out the trash. My husband can attest to the 10 years of trash-removal avoidance tricks.
So, the first few months of noticing Garbage in Japan was at work. Our floor had 200 people and the trash can was the size of one you’d have under the cabinet in a bathroom. However, there were bins for plastic bags (future blog topic), bins for cans, bins for plastic trays and bins for PET. But I lived in a hotel, so I would take my Starbucks paper bag with handle, keep it at my desk for the week, and empty the bag in the hotel room where zero sorting had to be done.
There are vending machines on every corner but if you guzzle your water, there are no street garbage cans. Something to do with an act of terror in the 1990’s. Inevitably, I carry empty Coke Zero bottles and water bottles in my purse until I make it home.
Now that I am in my 49 square meter flat sharing a floor with 19 other expats, garbage takes on a life of its own. There are FIVE categories: combustible, plastic, Recyclables (cans, bottles, PET), spray cans/batteries and non-combustibles.
Over the course of 1 dinner, I can probably use 4 of the categories. I purchased a second garbage can to help with plastic but after 4 weeks, it’s not working. I bring my trash to the dump room late on Saturday nights so no one will see my sorting errors. Don’t get me wrong, recycled items like bottles cans and plastic are done correctly but there are so many shades of grey with the other items.
I wish there were large trash cans, black garbage bags to conceal the contents, and minimal sorting.