The Pains of Throwing Rubbish in Japan

Actually Japan is a really easy place to live in, if let’s say you live in huge cities like Tokyo and Osaka because you can literally get everything done smoothly in no time. But this is not so coming from where I’m staying at the moment. I admit it is challenging for someone like me who is so used to convenience and the city life to live in a more countryside area where most shops start closing at 6pm.

What would you say if i were to tell you, in order to throw a foldable sofa-bed, first i had to dissemble it into pieces, load it into a huge car, drive to a neighbouring city  40mins away just to discard it? Well, that was the exact situation i had gotten into. Oh, i forgot to mention the dozens of calls Ai-san made for me in order to find a place that could accept this ‘rubbish’. Yeah, I’m talking about making a reservation in order to throw rubbish. Uh-uh, you didn’t see it wrongly when i wrote “RESERVATION”.

Remember i mentioned i was moving out in the previous post?

This was how it looked like before the actual day of the move.

And this was how it looked like on the actual morning of the move.

Alright so here it is where I’m waiting for my friends to help me move my stuff. See the bed at the corner? It’s probably the greatest obstacle in my moving of the house. I know you would be shocked to know that I’m throwing it away after just sleeping on it for 2 months. Yes, i know it’s a waste! You cannot imagine how much heartache i had while i was doing this.

I had tried selling it away to my friends and through people i know by making a flyer. Something like this:

Pictures from Nitori website

But i had no replies on this. It’s bad! If i were in Tokyo, probably this wouldn’t have happened because there are so many foreigners moving in and out of huge cities. Okay, next, Plan B – sell it to recycle shops.

Ai-san had told me that even if i sell it to recycle shops, the money i would get in return is likely to be 100-200 yen or something like that. It’s okay actually because to me, if i can get rid of this asap i have no qualms getting lesser money. The problem is just who could come and take it away?

So i searched on the internet and found a list of recycle shops in my city. But it turns out, out of 15 listed, more than half of them had gone bust! And one shop even said i had to pay about 3000-5000 yen for them to come and carry it away? Oh my, so what’s the point of selling it away? I found it super ridiculous. Then another shop said they couldn’t come and take it because their schedule is full but if we could take it to them, they would be happy to entertain us.

In the end, Plan C – throw. Ai-san managed to call the city office and helped me located 2 places that supposed deal with bulky garbage FOR FREE which one of them is in my city and another in the neighbouring city. But the one in the same city had schedule lined up until next month? And so we had to go to the further one. And also we had to MAKE A RESERVATION. In case you didn’t know, you have to PAY to throw bulky items so it’s better to give them away.

So here we go.

The inside of a bulky garbage processing centre.

Driving into the centre

There’s many automated doors and shutters actually. And there’s no smell at all! It’s my first time here and i doubt i would have any more chances of going such places.

Workers helping to remove the parts of the bed from the car.

I’m really in awed of the professionalism that the Japanese showed in their work. There was like about 6-7 workers who showed up and performed their job, led by a chief. And the best part is, we (the ladies) didn’t even have to lift a finger here too!

And so it’s time to leave. We went out of an automated door again so actually it feels like a drive-thru.

Leaving the centre.

So this was how big the centre is. Actually the whole process took less than 15 mins. The people were all very professional so we didn’t have to wait for long. But it’s an arduous process just to throw a piece of furniture! It just made me reflect on myself that buying furniture for your household is really an important decision since getting rid of it is gonna be such a pain.

Let me just give a brief background on the garbage system in Japan. First, rubbish has to get sorted out into different categories, ‘combustible’, ‘non-combustible’, recyclables like ‘Pet bottles’, ‘glass’ etc.

Guide to garbage sorting

Source: google images (Kasaoka city site)

Actually every city has their own system of sorting and specific collection days. You really have to check out your city office site to get it right. I was told by a friend that some garbage collection areas has cameras installed so that they could go after people who just throw as they like! I kinda freaked out when i heard that and i started to scrutinize my collection area for that. Luckily, there isn’t. (phew.)

Coming from a background with no such emphasis on garbage sorting, i became pretty environmentally-conscious during my stay here. There’s garbage bins all over Singapore, in the malls and on the streets so people never bother to sort rubbish unless there’s recycle bins around. But here you see nothing of this. Japanese people were educated from young to bring their rubbish home to throw it. No matter how disgusted you feel holding your rubbish until you reach home, this is just the way it is. But in Singapore, it’s different. We can’t hold a plastic cup after drinking from it until we reach home! We just find the nearest bin to throw it!

This bulky garbage experience really made me rethink our attitudes towards rubbish and eco-friendliness in my own country. I sure have learnt a lot from this. I hope you have too.


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