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Lead an Environmentally-Considerate Lifestyle by Reducing Waste

Shahin started living in Tokyo this spring. While on his way to the supermarket one weekend afternoon, he bumps into Kyoko, his neighbor.

Lead an Environmentally-Considerate Lifestyle by Reducing Waste

Kyoko

Hello there. Are you also off shopping?

Shahin

Yes, I am. I was hoping to stock up on food for the week. What about you? You seem headed in the same direction. However, that bag of yours already appears quite full.

Kyoko

I am carrying some old PET bottles and polystyrene food trays. There are also some used milk cartons in the bag as well. There are recycling boxes located just next to the supermarket entrance. Thus, I brought these things from home to deposit there.

Shahin

You are talking about the recycling of resources! I should have followed your lead. I tend to forget such things. Back in Bangladesh, the idea of separating out household waste and recovering what is recyclable still hasn’t caught on generally.

Kyoko

Yes, I also sometimes think that the whole thing is a bit of a hassle. However, if we do make a genuine effort to thoroughly sort out what can be burnt and what waste should be processed by burying, then it is possible to reduce overall waste volumes. We can also recycle what may be reused as resources.

Shahin

What you are talking about is reducing the negative impact that the waste produced by society has on the environment, and using those resources to which we have access as efficiently as possible.

Kyoko

That is correct. By the way Shahin, have you heard of the Three R’s?

Shahin

No, I don’t think so. What are they?

Kyoko

They are “Reduce”, “Reuse” and “Recycle,” terms that represent three actions that may be undertaken to realize a sustainable recycling-oriented society that takes into consideration the environment around us.

Shahin

Doesn’t “Reduce” mean to minimize? In other words, taking steps to make sure that waste isn’t generated in the first place. And “Reuse” means to utilize something repeatedly. Meanwhile, “Recycle” refers to the practice of taking waste and then using it once again as a resource.

Kyoko

You are right Shahin. And of the 3 R’s, it is said that the most important is taking steps to “Reduce” the volume of waste that is generated in the first place. It is the measure on which we should focus most strongly.

Having got to the supermarket, the two friends run into Belinda, an acquaintance who lives in the neighborhood.

Shahin

When you first arrived in Japan, did the idea of having to sort out your rubbish seem confusing?

Belinda

Not really, because back in Germany we also have rather detailed rules on how we are supposed to dispose of waste. If anything, what troubled me when coming to Japan was the tendency for various products to be overwrapped. Indeed, if I think about the situation back in Berlin, there are even some supermarkets who specialize in selling products by weight while appealing to the public that they use “zero wrapping.”

Kyoko

Yes, and even if “zero wrapping” proves not to be practical, in terms of reducing waste volumes, something important that we can all do is to decline to have what we buy overwrapped. And what about when we are shopping, what other things can we do to contribute to waste reduction?

Shahin

Well what about shopping like you are, in other words carrying our own shopping bags? That means that we don’t have to use plastic bags from the supermarket. We should also turn down offers of disposable chopsticks and hand towels that we don’t really need. Another thing is to only buy the volume of food that we will eat.

Belinda

When purchasing detergents and shampoos, I think it is good to buy refill packs rather than new bottles.

Shahin

And what reducing waste in the home? What can each of us do?

Kyoko

Make sure that you cook everything that you buy and don’t waste anything. Added to that, make sure to eat any leftovers. With kitchen refuse as well, it is better to dispose of it once its moisture content has been sufficiently reduced. Doing so dramatically reduces the volume of kitchen refuse.

Shahin

And what about reuse?

Belinda

Online, I try to auction off any clothes that I no longer wear. I also take any books that I have finished reading along to a second-hand shop.

Shahin

I see! Having spoken to you both, it seems that there are many things I should also be doing. Going forward, I would like to make use of my knowledge of reduce, reuse and recycle.