Japan’s recycling example

Blaine Harden of the Washington Post writes today of the efforts made by the Japanese not only to dispose of waste in an efficient and non-toxic manner but apparently are making an art of it. Take it upon the Japanese to quietly and effectively do the right thing, rice farming and whaling aside. The article explains how the Japanese, who produce roughly half the per capita garbage as Americans, take garbage disposal as a civic responsibility and come down on neighbors lacking the requisite zeal. The article singles out the town of Kamikatsu where residents have to “compost all food waste and sort other garbage into 34 different bins for recycling.” They’ve also hired world renowned architects to design incinerators that look good, burn cleanly, and have found acceptance in Japan’s notoriously congested neighborhoods.

I’ve heard commentators in the U.S. complain about having to sort any of their trash into separate bins, as if that violates our inalienable right to consume and excrete as we see fit. To that I say there are a number of neighborhoods in the developing world I’d like you to visit. Just because trash is not in plain view doesn’t mean it’s not screwing up someone’s ecosystem somewhere else.

I thought of this aversion to recycling while driving through my home town today. On every corner there was a stop sign or a light and all cars obeyed their directions. Painted lines directed traffic in which lane to move to in order to turn left, right or go straight, and all cars stayed within the lines, drove at something close to speed limit. Additional signs indicated where to park and not to park, allowing traffic to move smoothly during rush hour and buses to pick up waiting passengers. No one objected. But there are plenty of places in the world where they do. Societies evolve and the smart ones take steps to deal with the problems and excesses that this evolution brings about. In Japan’s case they’ve created stringent recycling laws, built state-of-the art waste disposal facilities, and created an art of it.  The U.S. should be taking notes.

Posted by patrickj on 11/17 at 07:37 PM
Environment • (3) CommentsPermalink


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