While we all talk about the three R's - Reduce, Reuse & Recycle, very few of us pursue it to the extent that the people of Kamikatsu Town in Japan do. They declared war against waste in 2003 and are fast moving toward becoming a 'Zero Waste Town'.
Kamikatsu, a small picturesque town, famous for its terraced rice paddies, is located on Shikoku Island in Southern Japan. In 2003, the officials of the town adopted a 'Zero Waste Declaration' - a mission to reduce waste sent to landfill to zero by the year 2020. They hoped that by doing this, they would not only be able to preserve their own environment, but also set an example to other Japanese and communities around the World.
So far, the plan has been quite successful. Residents now compost all their food waste and everything else is either reused or recycled. Residents try and cook as much of the vegetable and meat as they can, reducing food waste. Old Kimonos (Japanese local dress) are converted into curtains or other reusable items.
There are 34 categories for recycling, which range from aluminum cans to bottle tops made from plastic to styrofoam plates that supermarkets use for wrapping meat. The residents are not only responsible for sorting each and every item, but also making sure they are washed and cleaned. Also the recycling is not done at curbside, rather, each resident is responsible for sorting and depositing his/her items at a central repository or selling them to shopkeepers who often offer incentives like lotteries for encouragement.
Most of the residents in the area are very enthusiastic about the program. They say it has helped them cut down on waste generally and help them think of reusing things in innovative ways. While the composting and re-cycling takes a little extra time, they all seem to have managed to fit it into their schedules. They are very proud of the fact that before the program was started they used to send about 4 tons of waste to landfill every year - Now nothing goes to landfill.
The Mayor of the town only hopes that other towns and countries will follow Kamikatsu's lead and also adopt similar policies.
Source: BBC News, green alliance.org