Thursday, February 3, 2011

Trash Talk

Our assigned garbage drop-off site.
Japan has an  intensive garbage and recycling system.  This is really no joke.  After signing our lease we were given a booklet about garbage and recycling in the city.  Luckily, its in English, but it was overwhelming to us newcomers.  We have trash/recycling 5x a week.  About a block from our house is a wire cage with green netting.  This is our designated garbage drop-off site between the hours of 0600-0800.  Until recently, we thought those cages were for animals!

Here's an example of what our weekly trash collection looks like:

Monday/Thursdays- Burnable (food scraps, small paper, foil-lined snack bags, paper towel rolls, etc).  These items must be in a transparent bag or white bag.
Tuesdays- PET Bottles, metal food cans (anything with a PET and recycling symbol around it...usually seen on plastic bottles from the vending machine). These items must be rinsed out and put into a transparent bag.
Wednesdays- Plastics (plastic film off food, plastic food containers, plastic shopping bags, styrofoam packaging, etc).  These items must be rinsed thoroughly, and put into a transparent bag.
Fridays- 1st & 3rd is Non-burnable (plastic straws, plastic toys, aluminum foil, etc).  Must be in a transparent bag.
Sundays- 2nd & 4th is Group Collection (toilet paper rolls, paper milk cartons rinsed, aired out, flattened, and tied with string, cardboard cut up into nice stacks and tied together with string, old clothing).

Sounds easy?  Its getting better now that were are finishing up with week two of this routine.  I do take a daily trek down to the garbage area to make sure our bags were taken.  The trash collectors will reject garbage if its not done correctly.  You get a nice yellow (and I've also seen blue) sticker on you bag explaining in Japanese  what you did wrong.  We had an incident last week with an older neighbor who ended up complaining to the owner of our house about how we left "incorrect" garbage at the collection site.  It wasn't ours, but our realtor had to come over and make some phone calls explaining that it wasn't us.  It was a bit tense because of the language barrier, and because we are so new to the neighborhood.  I did ask my Japanese language sensei some phrases I could say in the future in case this ever happens again.

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