Over the New Year’s period, even Kyoto’s public service people get a week or so off. This means, among others: no garbage collection. A few weeks before New Year’s, you get a detailed schedule of what type of garbage is collected until which day and from which day. The schedule is comprehensive, on top of the usual suspects (standard garbage, plastics, glass, and paper) there are also mentioned slightly more exotic things you might want to get rid of: large household appliances for example, or dead pets.

plastic grocery bagsThis year, on the bottom of the page, there was a special appeal to reduce waste. Apparently, the city is making an effort to cut their garbage in half, from a peak of 390.000 tons (per year, I assume?) The rate has slowed down, and now people are encouraged to go the extra mile to reduce 27.000 tons more to meet the target. Particularly suggested are a reduction in food waste (meaning: the throwing out of perfectly edible leftovers or overstocked food) and to be more diligent in separating paper from the general garbage.

Both is fine with me 😉 What was interesting about this appeal was a very simple calculation. They suggest that each person should reduce their waste by 30 grams each day. That sounds rather puny, no? After all, that’s just one PET bottle, or 3 plastic bags, or half a newspaper (probably not the Sunday edition); or one bell pepper, or 1/5 of a carrot or tomato. But when you actually doing the numbers, that little bit does sum up: To 900 grams, i.e., almost one kilo per month, and 10.8 kilos per year. For one person – count the approximately 1.5 million people living in Kyoto alone, and that leads to more than 16.000 tons a year.

Impressive what a tiny little bit can sum up to – if everybody does it!