There are many countries which will give us Indians culture shock. The enforcement of a scheme such as the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan speaks a lot about our littering habits. Therefore, a visit to Japan might just feel unreal to most of us. It is not the government that warns people to stay clean, but people themselves have become eco-friendly.
Lack of bins for waste on the streets of Japan is a result of the country’s attempt at waste management. The industrial boom brought about the problem of excessive accumulation of waste. As the country started running out of landfills to dispose of the trash, a series of waste management laws enforced in the 1990s brought about strict recycling laws.
The road signs in Japan don’t request citizens to not litter, rather they ask people to take the garbage home. No dustbins in public spaces help with the enforcement of this policy. In the few areas which do have dustbins, at least a dozen different types can be spotted together. Japan recycles around 77% of its plastic waste which places it above other developed countries such as Britain and the United States.
Kamikatsu, a small town in Japan, aims to become a zero waste town by 2020. The population of 1,700 has mastered the art of recycling and waste management.
From 10 to 44 different kinds of dustbins are used to separate the waste. Even bottle tops are disposed of separately. People are provided with “Gomi guides” which help understand the different divisions and sub-divisions of waste and how to recycle them.
If you are visiting Japan, then remember not to walk and eat because, in their culture, the act is not appreciated. Most people stand and eat where they order from and return the packaging. Wondering how a country obsessed with vending machines is able to achieve this feat? Surely, the people didn’t want to live in garbage houses and compelled themselves to change their lifestyle.
The world was in awe of Japan’s dedication when, in 2014, after the World Cup soccer match against Argentina, the Japanese audience started cleaning up. They picked up littered cans, tissues, and confetti in order to maintain the cleanliness of the place.
It is certainly admirable and inspiring to see how the urge to not litter and recycle comes naturally to the people in Japan.
Maybe we should ask PM Modi for an all expense paid inspirational trip to Japan.