Shelton on Recycling in Japan
This article was written by Joshua Shelton. It originally appeared in "Ibaraki Report" No.33, published in March 2001.
Profound Profundities (2)
A column devoted to the useless and trivial
Ever since my first experience with a John Denver CD, I've had a special place in my heart for eccentric, hippie eco-activism. It's not actually as if the earth needs saving (it's just a big hunk of rock and water, after all), but the gooey personification of, what is in effect, a ball of mud whirling through space as some gray haired matriarch wearing Patagonia sandals just gets me...well, it gets me right here [thunk] [sniffle, sniffle]. No, it's the dopey people living on ol' Gaia who need saving, and I think the Japanese deserve special recognition for their efforts to clean things up and make the earth a healthy vibrant place for our children and their children (at least until those Texas-sized asteroids start wompin' down and send us the same way as the dinosaurs).
In the first place, nothing is over-wrapped or over-packaged. When you buy, for example, a bagel that you're about to eat in 2.3 seconds, the Japanese realize that it would be silly to put it in a plastic bag, tape it up, and put that into a further bag which will be taped shut. No, they don't do this. It would be wasteful.
And public transportation is clean and efficient. I can't tell you how many times I've been glad the buses are filled with natural gas or some sort of clean burning ethanol rather than diesel fuel that makes me feel like I'm sucking the wrong end of a cigarette filter up my nose. The summer air certainly isn't filled with smog, haze, carcinogens, death and destruction. No.
Also don't forget the simple system of trash disposal. Each day is color coordinated to a different tangent or secant or my cross-eyed wombat [eeek-eeek-eeek] so that there isn't any confusion or hassle about how to sort or when to dispose of one's trash. This explains why there aren't heaps of broken furniture, bottles, miscellaneous crud and Shonen Knife CDs that have been secretly piled up in the middle of the night because the correct method of disposal was too expensive or troublesome. Again, no.
All these things and myriad others surely make Mother Gaia want to burst into song and dance with Joan Baez (I know I sure do!), but we must remember that it isn't enough to sit back and admire a few accomplishments while a million problems remain. What's called for is further action, riots, anarchy, and the eventual election of Ralph Nader. Buy a bagel. Ride the bus. Eat your plastic wrap and Styrofoam. Watch environmentally themed anime. Use a toilet snake instead of liquid plumber (they exist, trust me). Maybe someday happiness and folk music will reign supreme.
Please address all criticism, death threats, letter bombs, etc. to me, Joshua Shelton, and not to Mr. Iwasaki. He's already been in the hospital four times on my account.