Friday, December 7, 2007

Our recycling bins

Happy Friday! I hope everyone is well and ready for the weekend. If you need a good laugh, you really have to check out the Japanese toilet-training video that my friend Jen recommended. It is soooo hilarious. Here's the link:

It is beautiful and sunny here today. I took out the plastic recycling a little while ago and realized that this might be a topic to share on my blog. I know, you're thinking, recycling? Yes, recycling AND garbage. I'm a big supporter of recycling, and I think it's an easy way to help our planet. In Japan, they take it to a whole new level. Japan is a small country with a lot of people, and they follow a complicated system for collecting recycling and garbage. So, I'll try to explain the process for our little neighborhood, since it differs depending on where you live.

First off, as you can see in the photo above, we have five recycling cans! Plus, we have another can for garbage. Our garbage/recycling collection site is located at the end of our street. It is a three-walled enclosure, with a little roof over it.

Garbage is collected on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Everything, whether it's garbage or recycling, has to be put in transparent or semi-transparent bags so that the collectors can see what's in the bags.

Monday is Recyclable Resource Day and Paper Day. This means that they collect glass, cans, and paper items. Paper items have to be sorted by type, which means that things like magazines and newspapers go in one bag, and paper bags and packaging go in another.

Friday is Plastic Day and Pet Bottle Day. All plastic wrapping and containers that don't have the triangle symbol with the number 1 go in one bag, and all bottles with the number 1/triangle go in another. With the pet bottles, you have to take off the plastic lids and labels, and put those two items in with the plastic wrappings. We have full-color brochures with examples of all the items that you have to recycle. Here's a link to a pdf of one of the brochures. It's in English:

This brochure is a little old, however. They recently changed their plastic and paper recycling process, with more items that you have to recycle and different collection days. I unfortunately couldn't find a copy of this brochure to share with you, but it's definitely made things more complicated.

So, craziness, no? You really think twice about everything you need to get rid of here. Is this garbage? Is this recycling? Which bin do I put it in? What day of the week is it? I will never look at garbage the same way again.


Jennifer Blackburn said...

Glad you liked my contribution to your website! "My bottom feels strange... I want poo!"

Day-umn, that is one complicated recycling system! They could never do that in the U.S. because we are too lazy and dumb here.

Anonymous said...

I work for an environmental education center, so I forwarded our staff the link. It's hilarious to think of 8 pages worth of regulations like that being enacted in the DC area. It's like we're in a 3rd world country here---you can call and get the county to pick up bulky items from your curbside for free, and garbage collection is twice a week and recycling once a week, but people still truck their junk to empty lots and illegally dump it in the middle of the night for no reason that I can determine. Perhaps because the illegal dumping fine here is like $300 instead of $90,000 like what your brochure says, Ellen. Our annual river cleanup pulled something like 290 tons of trash out of the Potomac River last year. I'm thinking they don't have that problem in Japan.

My favorites from the brochure, partially from a bit of an Engrish perspective and partially because of how funny they would seem if stated or enacted around here, are as follows:

Keep your used underwear dry so it can be a reusable resource. Stop by the post office to buy a recycling tag (about $40) for your large item (such as refrigerator) before you pay the other collection fee (probably about $10) at a designated shop to get it picked up. Footwear and stuffed animals apparently deserve their own headings under regular garbage---do they contribute that significantly?---Ellen, how many stuffed animals and shoes will you be throwing away when you leave Japan? Pierce a hole in your empty spray can in a well ventilated area (as follow-up to Jen's lazy and dumb assessment, I'm trying to envision this activity being tacked onto Redskins tailgate parties). Pianos are not collected. Illegal dumping, if I’m doing the math right, is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $90,000! Toilet cleaning utensils are not collected as recyclable items.


Anonymous said...

"Toilet cleaning utensils are not collected as recyclable items."

There is comfort to be found in that sentence.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ellen,
I have to say the potty training video was more interesting than the complicated recycling system. That video was hilarious, Mr. poo poo is some stiff competition for Mr. Hankey from South Park. Highlights from the video for me where the confetti exploding after the successful poo poo as well as the real life "dramatization" with the childing showing how to use the potty handle accessory. The Japanese sure now how to have a good time in the bathroom!
Tami A.

Anonymous said...

Very good stuff.