Sep 18, 2018

About cleaning up the environment

Japan is so clean. I love how everyone culturally is taught to take their garbage home with them. I talked about it once in a post about visiting nature on vacation days. It is just the way you do things.

Comparatively, I think people in the states know they aren't supposed to litter, but not enough people care to try and keep their messes to themselves. Even if people judge them for just tossing their empty beer cans off the side of a boat, there isn't as much worry or concern about keeping face like there is in Japan. Japan is all about keeping up appearances. This is why trash around Japan seems so well-kempt even without public trash cans on every corner. They also have great ways to keep the trash that gets thrown out sorta for recycling. Even though it can be a bit more of a hassle, it just has to be done, so everyone obliges.

Of course, there are those few who don't follow the rules and just toss their stuff out all willy-nilly, but the group mentality either sets them straight with social pressure, or someone in the community picks up that person's slack. However, I have found a certain part of Japan that this doesn't seem to imply.

About cleaning up the environment photo

If you have ever walked anywhere wooded or mildly secluded you will find mounds of garbage. Under bridges just out of the view of roads, I have come across full 45-liter bags of pet bottles or cans. We found ruffage from someone's meal where they must have had the same idea as us to picnic, however, because they were far enough from prying eyes didn't bother to bring their billions of bags and napkins from the fast-food chain back with them. Then there is the mountain road behind the school I worked at 3 years ago.

About cleaning up the environment photo

In a car passing through the winding lane it is easy to overlook the trash.  The green limbs of trees and underbrush just shield passengers from what has been tossed out by those who find throwing out their things on the proper days just too much of a hassle. Most likely it builds up in their home until one night when there is no one on the road they drive it out to the mountainous area and lug it down the hillside. When I would walk the distance through the small mountain range, I could see tv sets, sofas, rice cookers, and microwaves, bags of glass bottles, cans, plastic. Black bags with ambiguous contents were aplenty. It is rather a disgusting sight.

In my third year of teaching, I got hopeful that it would get cleaned up even just a little. Our school decided to have a “clean-up campaign” that I was very excited about. The students were going to take a day to pick up garbage around town. Turned out the campaign was only in a very small area with a set course near the river. They weren't allowed to touch anything that might possibly be private property and this included the non-sidewalks that border all Japanese streets. If there was a plastic bottle that touched someone's property it had to be left for the owner. When I asked why someone explained it was because of liability reasons. There was no mention of going toward the mountains. I loved the campaign but feel like it could be used to do so much more.

There was another sorta campaign in the town I currently live. I really regret not going, but it was like with the cleanup campaign for the school. There were several starting points and groups would walk together through a course, then separate the trash at the main event area. It was nice because they also had booths and explanations about recycling and global warming.

I think it is great there is any movement to take care of the environment. The more people are aware of what they can do the less likely they are to do what they shouldn't, like toss garbage in secluded areas.

The other day I walked through a small wooded area and it was like always, scattered with trash.

About cleaning up the environment photo

Because no one sees these places, there doesn't seem to be any concern for them. No one will ever go and clean up those areas either because not enough people notice them or the fact of going into those areas will cause liability issues.

I also think they are left alone because Japan doesn't have a large sense of responsibility when it comes to volunteer work. I do wish there was more than just one event every few years about green living., as well as information about living off the grid. No one I have talked to even knows that someone can live on their own. The closest I can compare it to is solar panels for housing, but even that is a recent development.



American step mom with beautiful Brazilian babies. Raising them in Japan. I'm a crafter too


  • Tomuu

    on Sep 19

    Yep, I've seen this. There's a fairly quiet exit lane I take to get off the highway and onto the road into the town where I live and, apart from it's purpose as an access road for vehicles, it also seems to be used as rubbish dump. I guess it's people coming back from their day trips who don't want to bother separating the garbage they're bringing back with them. It all gets cleaned up from time to time but the garbage soon returns.

  • edthethe

    on Sep 20

    @Tomuu i bet the city comes to clean it once a year when they cut the grass. thats what happens near here. and because of that, more people are prone to toss their trash out. sad face

  • maynestacy

    on May 16

    I was so upset with the coffee cups and cans along the lane to my son`s preschool (a school I chose because of the scenery) that I took photos, talked to neighbors, put the garbage in a neighborhood garbage place, and told city hall about it. Now, that area is all developed with new houses. Now I live near the sea. The closest beach is a like a dump. I took photos and showed City Hall officers. They thought last year`s typhoon was to blame. There is a clean up once a year, because sea turtles lay their eggs there; I want them to alternate clean up areas. The next beach over, is in worse condition. The turtles might not know to go to the cleaner beach. I am trying to get a group together to do regular cleanups. Challenging as a newcomer, just moved here.