Oct 10, 2018
In my post last month, I talked about how too much paper is used in Japanese offices. Japan has a similar issue with plastic that is not only limited to the office area.
Everything is packed separately
When you buy a bag of hard candy in Japan, every candy will be wrapped in a small plastic wrapping. This is probably nice to prevent them from sticking to each other and makes it easier to give candy to others but it is it really necessary?
There is a similar issue with all the sweets that are made for souvenir purposes. Because you usually buy them for your colleagues at work every cookie, chocolate, etc. is wrapped in a separate wrapping, so you can easily distribute them to your coworkers.
The whole souvenir giving and gift-giving is an important part of Japanese culture but maybe it is time to come up with more environment-friendly souvenirs.
You get a plastic bag for everything
When you buy something at the convenience store you will get a plastic bag with it by default, even though it is just a pack of chewing gum. If you don't need a bag you have to specifically tell the shop assistant not to give you one, which might be not so easy when your Japanese is still not very good.
Also, when it comes to foreign customers some shop assistants get so nervous they will give you a bag anyway even if you say you don't need one in perfect Japanese.
There is also an issue with items you order online. I recently ordered a pack of wet sheets for cleaning that already has packaging and it was put into another clear plastic bag for reasons that are beyond my understanding.
Fortunately, some supermarkets in Japan have started to charge customers for plastic bags and others give you a small discount on your shopping for bringing your own bag, which is a nice incentive, but still, too many shops give out plastic bags for free.
Some office workers bring self-made lunches in reusable bento boxes, which is a great thing for your health and the environment, but many worker just buy something at the convenience store. The lunch will be packed in a plastic package and the chopsticks and oshibori (wet towel) you get along with it also are packed in a separate plastic packaging.
You can get such cute lunch boxes at the 100 yen stores in Japan, so there is really no excuse for not bringing your own lunch anymore.
Wouldn't it be great if there was an option to buy lunch in a reusable lunch box, that you return later, so it can be washed and used again?
Actually, there is. In a previous workplace, my coworkers and I would order lunch from a service that delivers lunch boxes to the office. The lunch boxes are made of reusable plastic and once you are done eating you just leave them there and on the next day the delivery guy will pick up the dirty boxes so they can be washed and used again.
It was sufficient if you ordered 3 meals per day, they had a variety to choose from and the prices were really cheap as well. Also, there was no delivery fee. Unfortunately, I couldn't find their website anymore, so I am not sure if they are still in operation but I really liked this approach.
Hi, I’m Eli. I’m from Germany and moved to Japan a few years ago. I am a typical nerd and like collecting Pokémon merchandise.Follow me on twitter (@hannari_eri) for the latest nerd News from Tokyo. I also write a blog in German over here. https://lifeinjapanisstrange.wordpress.com/