Taking Care of the Environment in Japan
Abstract: I noticed while being in Japan that it is very clean! There is barely any littering, yet I could rarely find public trash cans! People living in Japan find it very important to take care of their country and make sure to keep it clean. Find out how Japan takes care of their environment here!
How do nations meet their communities’ needs?
Nations meet their community needs by working together to solve problems. In order to make recycling work people have to recycle! People in Japan make sure to follow the rules of not only recycling but also saving energy in their home by taking short showers or making sure to turn off the lights when they leave a room.
- What community need did I learn about and why does the community have this need?
I learned about Japan’s need to recycle. Japan is too small to have landfills full of waste so it is important to create ways to save energy and reuse as many products as possible.
Is this need being met? How?
The need to save space is being met. Find out how below!
Are there ways or places to recycle in the local community, and if so, is it easy for people to access?
There are ways to recycle in the local community and it is easy to access in the home or in community buildings. There are recycling bins in apartment buildings and businesses also make recycling bins available.
What is the public sentiment about the state of the environment, and do young people think they play a role in protecting the environment? If so, how?
There are people in the community that work to bring awareness to environmental issues. Within the first couple of weeks that I was in Japan, I went to Shibuya and Harajuku with a couple of my friends. We stumbled into a festival in a park that was promoting Earth Day and environmentally safe products. They had homemade scarves, candles and more. They also had a huge outdoor flea market. Young men and women around the same age as my friends and I were sitting on blankets with used clothes neatly folded and being sold for as cheap at 100 yen which is around one dollar! I later saw another festival with handmade products, food, and music. People in the community plan these festivals regularly and are able to get people involved. By buying used clothes, less material will have to be made for new clothes and it also saves money.
What innovative solutions do you observe, or hear people talking about?
I noticed that people in Japan do not always find it best to drive a car. In America, we always drive cars everywhere! However, in Japan people may ride their bike to work or to the store. They may also decide to walk if they want to go somewhere close to their home or take the train since it is so convenient. Cars release fumes into the air that is bad for the environment. Since cars are not the only mode of transportation in Japan, it helps keep the air clean!
Also, one day when I was on the train going home from school, I watched a commercial being played on the screen in the train. It showed a machine that does both heating and cooling in the home. It also acts as a filter that removes a lot of the germs and dust from the air. In addition to that, if a person forgot to turn off the system, they could access it from their smart phone. They only have to press a button on their phone in order to turn it off. They would not have to travel all the way back home to turn it off or let it run all day without anyone using it. I thought that this was a really great invention and would save a lot of energy in the long run! It can do many things and it keeps people from having to buy multiple products. They can save money and less material would have to be used to make more products.
Have there been changes to environmental laws lately, or have new systems of solid waste management been introduced in the past five years?
A couple of years ago in the city where I was living, Yokohama, they made ten garbage categories. For example, there is a bin for plastic, cardboard, and paper. In order to make sure people recycle their trash properly, a twenty-seven page booklet was given to the residents to tell them how to recycle 518 items (Onishi). If ten separate recycling bins sounds like a lot than the forty-four in the town called Kamikatsu sounds crazy, right? So why go through all of this trouble? Well, Japan burns around 80% of its garbage. It can get pretty expensive so they would rather recycle. Plus, recycling reduces the amount of waste that goes into landfills. Since Japan is small it cannot have a lot of waste in its landfills. Instead of just throwing away left over material that is reusable, it is better to recycle it.
Are there any youth groups, community organizations, NGO or INGOs actively working to address solid waste management issues in your community? Who are they and what are they doing. What can we learn from them?
There are a number of groups in Japan that deal with environmental problems like Friends of the Earth Japan (FoEJ) (“International”). There are other organizations like ASEED Japan as well that deals with environmental problems within Japan and other countries (“NGO”). Many of these organizations are located in Shibuya which is where the festival I mentioned above took place. I did not notice which organizations were at the festival, but I’m sure many of them were there! These organizations are very focused on trying to keep the world from being damaged by the harmful effects of things like deforestation and pollution. People waste a lot of food and products in their everyday lives. These organizations work to bring awareness to these issues in order to keep the world healthy for all of us!
Work to get information and opinions from local people. Identify the different variables that affect the way people are addressing the issue of trash. Try and find a local person who has an action plan or idea for how to address the problem. Be as specific, detail-oriented and factual in your observations and interviews with people.
I have learned from my friends at Temple University Japan that people in Japan do not like to waste anything. Within many Japanese households, they try to avoid making waste as much as possible. For instance, they take very short showers so not to waste water. My host mom told me to try and take five minute showers! I thought it was going to be impossible! Yet, taking short showers really saves water and money. They never leave the TV on unless someone is watching it or lights on unless someone is in the room. In addition to that, most Japanese people hang-dry their clothes. My host mom often used the small room next to the dining room table made specifically to hang-dry their clothes. She used that room more than the drying machine. They also never waste any food. During my first couple of days in Japan, my host family showed me where and how to recycle my trash. They found it to be very important and always separated their trash. Doing all of these things eliminates the amount of products that are being wasted and also saves a lot of money!
- Trash cans located on public streets: No. Usually it is hard to find a trash can on the streets in Japan. They usually put recycling bins for plastic bottles near vending machines, but that is usually it. However, there is no trash on the streets in Japan. People in Japan actually hold on to their trash until they find a trash can or return home. They find it very important not to litter on the streets.
- Individual homes recycle trash: Yes. In my host family’s apartment building there are huge bins down in the parking garage for trash. There are bins for different kinds of products and people separate their trash before bringing it down to the bins.
- Grocery stores charge money for plastic bags: No. In all of the stores I have been in they never charge money for plastic bags.
- Grocery items are heavily packaged with plastic: No. I did not see a lot of item heavily packaged in plastic.
- People drink tap water: Yes. My host family never bought bottled water from the super market. If they would usually drink tap water.
“International Environmental NGO FoE Japan.” International Environmental NGO FoE Japan. FoE Japan, 2002. Web. 09 May 2013.
“NGO & Volunteer Groups: Environment.” Web Japan. Web Japan, n.d. Web. 09 May 2013.
Onishi, Norimitsu. “How Do Japanese Dump Trash? Let Us Count the Myriad Ways.”The New York Times. The New York Times, 12 Mar. 2005. Web. 9 May 2013.