Thursday, November 15, 2012

How to take out the garbage

      The City of Yokohama gives all new residents a 38-page booklet outlining the garbage-disposal procedure but you are sure to be instructed by your new neighbors, who will be quick to remind you if you don't get it right.

When you move into a new house or apartment in Tokyo, the first thing you have to learn is how to take out the garbage. Different types of garbage are picked up on different days, to make sorting and disposal easier on the other end. You will quickly get a reputation for irresponsibility if you don't adhere to the garbage schedule.

In our neighborhood, for example, the following types of garbage are picked up on Tuesdays and Saturdays:
1. Burnable garbage. Kitchen scraps, plastic items such as video tapes, and paper that cannot be recycled because it is not clean.
2. Spray cans. To be put in a separate plastic bag (but plastic tops go with the plastic as on Friday below).
3. Broken glass, broken dishes, light bulbs.
4. Used batteries (in a separate plastic bag).

These things go out on Fridays: plastic bottles, plastic cups, and the plastic trays used by supermarkets to hold fruits and vegetables, and empty plastic bags.

Mondays: Cans, glass bottles, and PET bottles.

Every other Friday except if it is raining or looks like rain: Those newspapers that are not picked up by the newspaper company (neatly stacked and tied with twine, if you please), cardboard containers (flattened and tied), and paper containers of liquids like orange juice (rinsed out, opened up and flattened and tied.

Recyclable wool and cotton cloth and clothing, if clean. Picked up from a separate place by elementary-school volunteers. Every other Friday.

Got it? Actually, it's more complicated than this but pay attention to the above basics and you'll fit right in. 

-Ernestine LaForge 

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