A few years ago, when I was in college, I went to a small party at my friend’s apartment. We all sat around drinking wine and eating with our plates on our laps; it was good fun. That is, until we had to tidy up and my friend threw all the waste (glass bottles included) in the same large garbage bag. When I asked why she wasn’t sorting out her trash for recycling she answered: “there’s no room in my apartment and I don’t care about nature”.

No joke. The girl did not give a rat’s ass.

In Kamikatsu, Japan, people did not use to care either. They used to burn their waste or toss it into landfills. But in 2003, when they realized the affect the way they got rid of their waste had on the environment and on their health, they changed their habits.

Now, they sort out their waste in 34 different categories so that 80% of their trash is re-used, recycled, or composted. By 2020, it will be 100%.

The result is impressive: the cost of waste disposal has been cut by one third and a community has been created around the new system.

It takes time and discipline to sort out everything and you need a little bit of space to store the items to recycle, but what you really need to get started is the will to produce less trash. You need to care about the effect your lifestyle has on everything and everyone around you. In Kamikatsu, the people clearly do care and they are all the better for it.

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