Friday, November 11, 2016

My Life With Garbage OR How Japanese Recycle

Dear Readers, prepare to be shocked, astonished, puzzled, maybe even laugh out loud...

Except some clothes, toys and furniture, our tiny home inhabits my husband, my two kids, myself and....
a bin for milk cartons,
a bin for pet bottles,
a bin for glass bottles,
a bin for steal cans,
a bin for iron cans,
a bin for newspapers,
a bin for carton boxes (non milk ones),
a bin for batteries,
a bin for specific food packages
a bin for non-food garbage, such as old cooking pot

That's quite a lot of bins and bags! Where do they fit? They don't. We literally step on some when trying to fit into our tiny kitchen.

The worst part is in many houses and buildings you can't even discard the garbage just any time you want. There are specific days for each specific type of garbage! So, you get the joy of stumbling and smelling your waste for entire week.

Non-food garbage items, such as electronics, furniture pieces and such, actually cost money to discard. About 10$ on average. It definitely makes people discard way less, but at the same time makes them live with clutter they really don't need anymore and that cannot be used/sold (think of broken TV).

I'm all for recycling. As a matter of fact, I'm big on leading environmental-friendly and frugal lifestyle. But, while living in a small (50 square meters/ 500 square foot) apartment with 4 family members and a kitchen that can barely fit one person at a time, recycling means I lead a life of a garbage hoarder.

What do I and the rest of the population in Japan do to somewhat control the smell?
We wash every single can, bottle and even the carton boxes from the milk! Yes, literally wash very well until it is sparkling clean and neatly pack in those bins/bags and store them in our kitchen, veranda and rooms until that special day of the week when it's OK to go out and discard it. Then the cycle repeats.

How do you do it?

Food For Millionaires OR How To Survive On 2$ Per One Apple , 1$ Per One Small Tomato...

I got a pen, I got an apple...uh! One apple cost more than my pen! Pen-pineapple-apple-pen. LOL.

The good part about Japanese supermarkets culture is that about two hours before the closing time they start discounting expiring foods up to 50%. You can read my post on how to save big (aka not starve) doing food shopping in Japan here.

The bad part though, the one that had me most culture-shocked, is how expensive veggies and fruits are. I come from a country where 2$ could get you one kg of apples, not just one single apple.
Before we start our tour, here is some basic info:

* I'm taking you through a typical supermarket of a big chain. This supermarket caters low to mid range income population.

* The supermarket is in a residential downtown type of area of Tokyo, Japan.

* In Tokyo, a salary of the middle class is 4~5 million yen per year. Salaries are taxed at about 30%. And on top of that there are all sorts of other deductions occurring before the final cash amount reaches the person (labor union membership, health care, pensions, etc).

* 100 Japanese yen is approx. 1 USA dollar.

Now, armed with the above information, let's proceed to the tour!