Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Cute Trash: Not Enough Tots for Toys?

It's burnable trash day here in Kadoma City, Osaka, Japan. It is a challenge to figure out exactly what garbage is considered to be burnable, what is plastic, and what falls into other special categories. It is said that 80% of Japan's garbage is burned, so the separation of various types of trash is especially important, and complicated. Japan is moving towards more recycling, simply because it needs to. Luckily, the separation of garbage/recyclables in Kadoma is not as complicated as it is in Yokohama. See the following story and be sure to view the accompanying slide show as well.

Link to How Do Japanese Dump Trash? Let Us Count the Myriad Ways

In Kadoma, we put out bottles and cans on Mondays, burnable trash on Tuesdays and Fridays and plastic trash on Thursdays. Wednesday changes every week; sometimes it is for PET bottles, sometimes newspapers and cardboard, sometimes glass, sometimes large items. See the rules in detail below.

Link to Kadoma City Garbage/Recycling Schedule (in Japanese)

But which day does one dispose of toys? How sad to see toys being tossed. Is this a consequence of the declining birthrate? Not enough kids to play with toys? As the society grays, is there no longer a need for toys? See the sources below for information about Japan's population.

Link to Japan child numbers at record low

Link to Statistical Handbook of Japan, Chapter 2, Population

Is there a cute trash day? Cute is more than a "boom" (passing fad), some have argued that Japan has a "culture of cuteness." But with less children, even cute things need to be tossed. Is it only me, or isn't it heartbreaking to see such a stuffed animal (Pooh-chan!) get thrown away?

Link to Cute sells in Japan

This post went off in many tangents - all this caused by mere observations of garbage... It goes to show that you really can tell a lot about a people by the things they throw away.

Post Script: As mentioned above, 80% of Japan's garbage gets burned. What happens to the rest? It gets buried and/or exported to poor South-East Asian countries. For more information on garbage disposal in Japan see the following sources:

Link to "Free Trade Cannot Include Toxic Waste" on the Basel Action Network webpage (2007)

Link to "Garbage Disposal in Japan" on the Trade and Environment Database website (2001)

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