The small Japanese town of Kamikatsu has a mission to become the country’s first zero waste city by 2020, and they are already well on their way. Residents meticulously separate their recyclables into 34 different bins, which makes me feel guilty for complaining about the 3 bins at my own city’s collection site. So far, only 20 percent of the city’s trash makes it to landfills while the other 80 percent is responsibly recycled – a far cry from the old tradition of burning their refuse.
The town of 1,700 works together toward their zero waste goal. Each resident sorts their own trash and brings the cleaned and separated items to the local recycling center themselves. Initially people were understandably hesitant about the changes, yet now the tasks are a part of everyday life. A documentary by Seeker Stories interviews a resident who says, “If you get used to it, it becomes normal. Now I don’t think about it. It’s become natural to separate the trash correctly.”
In the town there is a shop known as a “circular,” which encourages people to bring in items to trade. A factory for repurposing unwanted items into new clothing or gifts is also at the heart of the city’s mission. Without the supportive nature of the community the initiative simply would not work. Enthusiasm from residents to change their lifestyles to reflect the importance of caring for one another and the planet is something all cities, large and small, should adopt for the stability of our future.