Garbage (2004-03-04)

Sorting and throwing out garbage is a serious matter here in Japan. When we first moved into our apartment, the lady who lives across the street came to talk to me not so much as to introduce herself (even though she did) but to make sure we knew about the garbage collection days. The Japanese just catapults "taking the trash out" to a whole new level of dimension.

Four days out of a week are designated as garbage collection days. Tuesdays for non-burnable items, Wednesdays and Saturdays for burnable garbage, and Fridays for recyclable matters in our neighborhood. There's always a sign at the collection point telling people what day is for throwing out what kind of garbage. Our municipal council delivers a pamphlet to every household each year explaining in details the classification of garbage.

I like the way people treat recyclable things. Old newspaper is tied up in neat little bundles for ease of handling by collection men. Cardboard boxes are flattened and tied up also. Books and magazines get the same attention. Most people do diligently follow the garbage day rules, but I've spotted empty cans or paper trash stuffed in opaque trash bags and got thrown out on burnable garbage day several times.

All garbage except recyclable items is covered with a net to prevent crows and stray cats from digging into the garbage bags and having a picnic of rotton swill right out in the open.
Many supermarkets have bins outside the entrance for people to recycle pet bottles, styrofoam trays and milk cartons. We can't afford not to be environmentally conscious these days anymore.

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