It is great to read this article about some convenience stores in Japan trying to cut back on the usage of plastic bags. For anyone that lives in Japan or has visited at some point will know that BAKERIES are the absolute worst offenders. I actually can't stand to watch their bread packing antics - it's completely absurd and regularly makes me angry. If you bought two croissants, a curry bread and a loaf of fresh bread straight out of the oven, the two croissants would more than likely be bagged in plastic together because they are the same and this plastic bag will be taped shut, then the curry bread will be put in another plastic bag and taped shut then the loaf of bread will be put in a paper bag because the bread is still hot but the bakery will provide you with a rolled up plastic bag and tie to put your bread in once it cools down and then all of these go into another plastic bag. I actually feel heat rising to my cheeks while typing this description. We also have a close friend that is a baker at a major Japanese bakery and she told us that she has seen bakers being hit and punched for messing up a loaf of bread. Can you believe it - bakery abuse....but that's a whole different story.
One local chain of stores in Kichijoji called VIC has recently started charging for plastic bags and it's such a great idea. It'll make everyone think about whether a bag is really necessary. And I know that a lot of supermarkets encourage shoppers to bring their own bag with a point card system or even charge for plastic bags as well.
That being said Daz and I were only discussing yesterday about how much recycling we do in Japan - the city we live in provides us with a recycling calendar to remind us what to put out on what day - it's very necessary as it's a pretty complicated process. We separate cans, bottles, PET bottles, scrap paper, magazines, cardboard boxes, milk cartons, burnable and non-burnable trash. At work the recycling is even more complicated and we have signs everywhere and everyone is in charge of separating the rubbish from their own bin.
Another positive point regarding rubbish in Japan - our local park has NO rubbish bins and it's a very popular park for eating and drinking. They encourage everyone to take home their rubbish. At first we found this really inconvenient but now we think it's normal and the park is really clean. I don't think I've ever seen anyone litter.
This is one of Japan's interesting contradictions.