Since I am the only person home in the day, one of my main sources of daily drama has been trying to figure out the garbage situation here in Okinawa. When we moved into our rental home, the housing agency gave us a chart that was meant to explain the garbage situation. It mostly contained pictures of different types of garbage items placed into categories, mostly garbage items that I would never throw away–teddy bear, VHS tape, hangers, sofa, etc. We got the gist that we need to separate trash and recyclables, but the sheet was not much more helpful than that.
The first week was devoted to figuring out which days the garbage collection took place, as the sheet had no information about that. After 2 or so weeks, I finally deduced that garbage collection is on Monday and Thursdays. I figured this out because the garbage truck plays a song, much like an ice cream truck, so I have time to run to the window and watch it as it, inevitably, drives right past our house. We then figured out, by watching our neighbor, that recycling is picked up on Wednesday (or is it Tuesday? still not totally sure…). But recycling doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem.
The main problem, it turns out, is getting our garbage picked up. Due to 2 weeks of garbage drive-bys, in which I run to the window, only to witness the truck pick up our neighbors garbage and drive right by ours, we now have 8+ bags of maggot-infested garbage. After I spent the morning working up the courage to even drag the maggoty bags out in the first place, and they are all now still sitting on the curb in the sun, I was finally compelled to do some garbage collection research.
It turns out that the Japanese stereotype of OCD may have some truth. Here is what I found out:
1. I must have a separate can for flammable garbage. This includes: kitchen scraps, leaves, branches, plastic bottle caps and wrappers, plastic bottles, clothes, cassette taps/CDs, diapers, paper, and cardboard/newspaper/magazines, which must be bundled together and may not be placed outside on rainy days.
I MUST place these items in the city-designated clear plastic trash bag, which I must buy at a Japanese grocery store, or they will not be collected.
2. I must have a separate can for non-flammable garbage: This includes: light bulbs, batteries, thermometers, dishes, metal, small appliances, hangers, & aerosols (which must be placed in a trash can and have a hole punctured in them). These must go in a clear plastic bag (not the city-designated bag). I still don’t know which day these things get picked up.
3. Separate bag for plastic bottles: bottles must be rinsed and stripped of their caps and labels.
4. Separate bag for cans.
5. Separate bag for glass bottles. Caps must be removed and placed in the non-flammable garbage bag.
Now I know that the flammable garbage is picked up on Monday and Thursday. But I have no idea when the other stuff is picked up…either Tuesday or Wednesday. And I don’t know if non-flammable is picked up on the same day as recycling.
In case you are interested, here is a really funny video
that taught me all of these tricks!
Here is the trash classification chart that I found that made a little more sense to me. Now I just need to figure out what type of garbage is picked up on each day…