Apr 22, 2019

Trash Day Rebels

Japan is stereotypically a clean and tidy country without litter on the streets despite the lack of trash cans everywhere like you'd see in some other countries.

I was sort of dismayed and surprised when I moved to my current home because there is no lack of litter in the empty lots, rice fields, or on the streets. Sometimes it looks like there is a regular deposit of trash from the same party as if they have a daily habit to litter in the same place. Other times there are bags of trash from snack runs just tossed in the street from cars. It's not the type of behavior I expected but it's possible it's cleaned up in bigger cities where here there is not frequent clean up.

I know there are volunteer groups who regularly pick trash off the streets wearing fancy vests - we saw a group of them in the last week. I feel bad for the property owners who have trash dumped onto their property by people who I'd consider lazy and disrespectful, in any country. It's not right, for environmental reasons, but also for personal responsibility reasons.

I hope that foreigners aren't automatically blamed for doing this kind of thing, although I'm sure they aren't always perfect. As the only foreigner in my apartment building, I've never had anyone bother me or treat me differently. I don't know if they're all secretly thinking what I'm thinking when someone puts the trash out too late on collection days.

For our buildings, the trash collection area is a little caged space (newly remodeled) that was often a huge mess. Before it was too easy for the stray cats and crows to get into trash. In addition, several people would leave their trash out the night before or put it out too late, after the pickup was obviously finished. This gave the animals way more time to get into the trash.

After we got a new 'trash cage' the space is a lot cleaner, but someone continues to put their trash out after the pickup. Every single pickup day. Which means it's 3-4 days before that trash is removed. 

I've tried to rationalize that some people work at night or oversleep sometimes. I have been guilty of just catching the trash truck in time once or twice myself. If I had missed the pickup time, it would be obvious because all the trash has been removed, so I wouldn't leave my trash there. I could keep it in my house (at worst on the balcony) for a few days until the next pickup day.

I don't even leave for work before ten in the morning and I manage to get my ADHD buns up and out in time for trash pickup (and recycling) every week. If I can do it in pajamas and flip flops during winter before the sun is bright, then so can everyone else.

On the way home from a walk this week I spotted the neighbors' spotless trash area.

Trash Day Rebels photo

It reads:

Today's trash collection is finished.

Please take out your trash on Mondays and Thursdays by 8:00.

Trash collection comes at around 8:30.

I think this is great. It's gonna make anyone feel especially bashful about leaving their trash in front of the sign. The sign which is in the space where the trash would go.

As I continued home, a couple minutes later I witnessed this.

Trash Day Rebels photo

The built in sign on our apartment's trash collection area is too easily ignored I guess. 

In the same vein, it reminds us to take out the trash on the morning of the collection days. It even mentions that crows and cats will quickly scatter the trash left out at the wrong times.


Please don't blame it on the foreigner.



What if whales don't communicate with whale calls & they're just farting?


  • TonetoEdo

    on Apr 26

    I feel for you. I lived in a few houses in suburban Tokyo, which means I was assigned ゴミ当番 gomi toban duty. Despite our best intentions, crows and other marauders got into the trash. I was working part time, so I could afford the extra minutes in the morning to clean up if there was an incident. Oh, I must admit my glee when I got to stick a garbage violation note on someone’s trash when they failed to follow rules. All my neighbors knew about the strict foreign garbage lady!

  • helloalissa

    on May 1

    @TonetoEdo Haha, that's cute, I'd probably be the same way if given the responsibility!