If you’re like most people, you produce garbage. If you’re still like most people, you also aren’t quite sure how to dispose of it in a way that would actually reduce it. The citizens of Kamikatsu, Japan aren’t like most people. They’re in a town completely free of waste, and may have a few lessons for all of us!
We’ve all been told how important it is to follow the 3 R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle. But do we actually know why, or even how to do that?
Surprisingly, there are now more than 3 R’s of recycling. Here are some of them:
- Refuse — If you don’t need it, don’t buy it
- Reduce — Limit how much of something you are using
- Reuse — Use products or parts of products multiple times for multiple purposes
- Recycle — Sort and send materials like cardboard and glass to be recycled and redistributed
- Repair — Fix broken things before tossing or buying new
- Rot — Compost natural materials 1
Producing as close to zero waste as possible has many benefits to society and the Earth as a whole. Not only is pollution reduced when we raise efforts to minimize waste production, but also less waste is being produced when the current amount of waste can be reused and recycled again!
So, the question everyone probably has:
Is producing zero waste even a possibility?
Well, the short answer is yes! It just so happens that the town Kamikatsu, Japan made the effort to reduce the amount of garbage produced and maximize their recycling efforts. This movement started when the citizens realized that incinerating their garbage had detrimental effects on the environment. 2 Let’s take a closer look…
There are many ways to produce zero waste and join in with the citizens of Kamikatsu’s efforts. In fact, other regions of the world are also trying to reduce waste production. Breweries are joining in the movement by adopting compostable 6-pack rings to hold their cans, and in Panama, the Plastic Bottle Village is helping us reuse bottles by turning them into sustainable housing!
Despite these amazing efforts by citizens and businesses, many of us ignore the consequences that garbage production has on Earth, because if the impacts aren’t instantaneous then they aren’t easily viewed as “our problems”. Understandable, right? However, if we all have this mentality, whose problems are they? What would happen if we all made it “our problem”?
“We don’t have to sacrifice a strong economy for a healthy environment.” – Dennis Weaver
All of this shows us that it is possible for a little bit of effort to successfully reduce the amount of waste production by ourselves, family members, or friends. Implementing these changes will be a difficult adjustment at first, but worthwhile in the long run.
Be conscientious of how your actions can affect others (humans and the Earth!) and encourage everyone to reduce, reuse, and recycle!
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- O’Brien, Lora. “The 7 R’s of Zero Waste: How To Live Without Excess.” Healing Lifestyles & Spas. Healing Lifestyles & Spas, 13 Sept. 2017. Web. 24 Apr. 2018. <https://healinglifestyles.com/zero-waste-7-ways-to-less-excess/>. ↩
- Garfield, Leanna. “The Simple Way This Japanese Town Has Become Nearly Zero-waste.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 10 July 2017. Web. 25 Apr. 2018. <http://www.businessinsider.com/zero-waste-town-kamikatsu-japan-2017-7>. ↩
- “Japan’s Town With No Waste.” YouTube. Great Big Story, 20 Dec. 2017. Web. 24 Apr. 2018. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OS9uhASKyjA&list=PLMFGVXWuJ1C6kAQqQMCGCS5wrQNnul7dc&index=98>. ↩