Environment, Photography

Friendly Friday Blog Challenge – Recycling

Japan is a very clean country. You won’t see or find litter in the streets. Why?

Several years ago in Japan, a bomb placed in a busy commuter station waste bin exploded and this on top of a 1995 domestic terrorist attack using deadly Sarin Gas also in a garbage bin, led to the removal of most bins, from public spaces, in Japan.

Japanese Garbage Disposal

Since then, the Japanese people have been responsible for the disposal of their own rubbish. Most carry a bag and take their trash home with them when they are out and about. Consequently, you will see nothing but a clean streetscape without litter of any kind. And if you do find a public bin, it will be separated into recyclables and combustible garbage all ready for recycling.

Despite the huge population, you won’t find trash anywhere on the streets of Tokyo or Kyoto.

Not even at Shibuya, the busiest pedestrian intersection in the world.

Nor will you find any rubbish or litter in Arashiyama, Nara or at the steps of Mt Fuji.

Recycling Garbage in Australia

Australians are fairly new to the waste recycling game with only a small portion of the 70 million tonnes of waste we produce, being recycled. The rest ends up as landfill or is shipped to willing countries, usually in the third world in exchange for hard currency! Surprising? It is true and as an Australian, somewhat shameful.

Think New Product, Not Waste

Think resource, not waste, when it comes to the goods around us – until this happens, we simply won’t award recycled goods the true value and repurpose they deserve.


There are many things that might be recycled if we considered them a resource for the development of new products, rather than waste.

Paper, cardboard and plastics can be, and are, upcycled to new products; food and garden waste biodegrades in backyard compost heaps/bins; books are re-used, via book exchanges or free services such as Bookmooch.

Even Second-hand clothing can be recycled via thrift store donation bins or increasingly refashioned into new clothing and other items. Clothing giant, H& M are transforming old clothes into new items by recapturing the raw materials and spinning the fibres into new yarn so that something old can become new again, but importantly – without the added environmental cost.  

A suburban street was recently resurfaced by recycling old car tyres, saving on carbon emissions and toxic landfill space. It was a delight to drive on.

Australian street re surfaced with recycled car tyres
A road resurfaced with used car tyres in Clontarf, Australia

It’s estimated about 130,000 tonnes of Australian plastic ends up in waterways and oceans each year through littering. Especially problematic are products like wet wipes are being flushed and plastic flying away from landfill processing. 130,000 tonnes! No wonder the oceans are dying.

Do you know what happens to the waste you dispose of, in your country?

Global Recycling Day is observed around the world on 18th March each year, and thus the theme for the Friendly Friday Blog Challenge is:


Up until Thursday 25th March, the challenge is to share photographs, a story or a blog post about what recycling means to you, on a circular economy, or what is happening in your local area?

Instructions on how to participate.

Include a comment below, tag your post Friendly Friday Recycling and pingback myself and Sandy, who will host the next challenge on Friday 26th March.

Recycling is a key part of the circular economy, helping to protect our natural resources. Each year the ‘Seventh Resource’ (recyclables) saves over 700 million tonnes in CO2 emissions and this is projected to increase to 1 billion tons by 2030. There is no doubt recycling is on the front line in the war to save the future of our planet and humanity.

Photo credit: Facebook

79 thoughts on “Friendly Friday Blog Challenge – Recycling”

  1. In the UK when we had a spate of terrorist bombings back in the Seventies, all waste bins were removed from stations and streets, but the population just threw their garbage on the streets, despite there being heavy fines for so doing. So, really, it comes down to culture. The Japanese seem keen to keep their villages, towns and cities clean and uncluttered – as their houses are – while other nations, including GB, don’t seem to care one way or another. I’m generalising, I know, but sometimes it’s the only way to make sense of things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you are absolutely correct there in your generalisation, Mari. The Japanese do have a different cultural approach to their surroundings than some other places. This is reflected in their respect for others’ property. I am trying to drill down to find why it is not like that in other places, and I have to think about it a bit more.
      Is it a prevailing attitude of, ‘me for myself?’ Does it come back to socio-economic or religious history? What makes someone toss something on the ground, not caring an iota that it will inconvenience others and cause unsightly filth on the streets? How can we re-educate people? Singapore is also very strict on littering. Like Tokyo, it is densely populated yet, it works.
      An entrepreneur developed a ‘Clean up Australia,’ day several decades ago and the day is dedicated to communities cleaning up their environment. That is great, but how do we change the individual’s mentality in a general everyday sense? Not only towards littering but also recycling. The Japanese are respectful of other people rights – be that being silent on the train, keeping the street clean for all, and there seems to be very little theft of other people’s property. That is so refreshing. They are a prosperous country and I wonder if it would be any different if they were poor?


      1. Mari has made exactly the same comment as I was about to make. I remember when all the litter bins were removed from station platforms on the Tube – people just dropped their rubbish or left it on the trains. I can’t imagine that happening in Japan, where people are much more conscious of their responsibilities to each other and to the community. I think (huge generalisation alert!) that this is true of many south east and east Asia cultures. It could be one reason why the regime in North Korea is able to mobilise the population into undertaking roadside gardening, community painting, litter picking, street cleaning etc. – it’s something they would be inclined to support even under a more liberal regime?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. When it is part of your ethic to show respect, it would be easier to motivate and mobilise communities to keep things neat and tidy. Is it cynical of me to think that the fear of authority plays and exploits these respectful ways? I read either from Albert, yourself or a radio program, (sorry can’t remember which), that if one transgresses against the North Korean regime, you are ostracized and punished. But it is not just you who suffers, it is your children and your children’s children as well. Three generations before you are forgiven. This is a big incentive to comply. Did you hear of this?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes, absolutely true. They have this sort of class system (although they would never describe it as such) called ‘songbun’. It’s based on family background, service in the military, active membership of the Workers’ Party and various intangibles that are hard to understand or influence. If you have a higher songbun you’re entitled to send your kids to the best schools and universities, may have a choice of place of work (rather than just being told where to go, as most are), can live in Pyongyang etc.) If anyone takes a misstep, not only will they lose any songbun privileges they have, it will affect that of their children and grandchildren, possibly more. It’s much easier to fall down the rankings than to climb up. It’s one reason anyone touring there must accept the rules and follow them to a tee – if you don’t, you’ll probably only get a telling off (possibly expulsion from the country if yo persist) but your guide will suffer for the rest of his/her life for not controlling you better – they’ll lose their job, their kids will have to go to a less good school, may be denied university, end up in a menial job rather than follow their parents into a high-level job, which guiding is considered to be (because of the level of trust placed in you, to interact with foreigners). And so on … Our NK guide was so lovely and we would have hated to do anything that impacted badly on her and her family 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            1. My goodness that puts the guides in a rather precarious position if you have an unthinking, uncaring tourist. That is the side of the regime I dislike intensely. To be so disparate and unreasonable in their judgements must mean anxiety levels in the population are off the chart.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. We had one guy who kept pushing the boundaries when it came to photography and he had a row with the guide at one point because she asked him to delete a photo that transgressed the rules (it was a side view of the statues of the leaders in Kaesong). It may seem a silly rule to us but we’d been told about it so he should have known better. We all joined the guide in persuading him to comply because we knew the implications for her if he didn’t. He did do it in the end but it created a bit of an atmosphere in the group for a while, unfortunately.

              Liked by 1 person

            3. Silly man! Why create a bad feeling on your holiday. If you were told and warned of the consequences, it would make sense to comply. He was acting as if he was still at home with all the rights taht accords, I guess?

              Liked by 1 person

            4. I think it was more a case of he thought it made him look big, or clever, to be able to get away with taking photos he shouldn’t. He boasted several times that he had lots hidden on another card. We have no idea if he was searched at the airport on leaving (guides sometimes alert the authorities) as he stayed on for a couple of extra days’ private tour so didn’t leave at the same time as the rest of us. I hope he was!

              Liked by 1 person

            5. Oh! Fancy risking boasting about that kind of thing. And what a dilemma for the guide. To report him and face their own disciplinary action, or leave it unreported to be discovered by border security. A fool of a man.

              Liked by 1 person

            6. If she reported it I don’t think there would be repercussions for her because she would have done the right thing in alerting the authorities, but she would have wanted to resolve it herself if she could. At one point in the trip she asked to borrow his camera, on the pretext of showing it to someone else, and then sat on the bus going through his photos and deleting any he shouldn’t have. But I know he had already saved most of them elsewhere and I’m not sure if she’d be aware of that. However she was a very experienced guide and probably had seen all the tricks in the past and knew how to deal with them!

              Liked by 1 person

  2. So that’s why there’re no trash cans in Tokyo! It was always a puzzle for me why they were never there.
    Great challenge topic Amanda! It’ll be interesting to see what other countries are doing to reduce waste and promote re-use and re-cycling. I posted about a few initiatives here in Canada, but I’ll think about what else is being done.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sadly, I’ve heard that plastics recycling in our area (maybe the whole country) is more of a concept than it is a reality. Our recycling bins are picked up every two weeks (our green waste is picked up the other week). My husband and I compost all of our food waste. We do what we can but I’m sure there is more.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Now Janis, I love to hear that you are composting scraps for the garden, but that plastic recycling is a concept and not reality, is something I do not like to hear! How sad that it is recycling in name only. Do you know what happens to the plastic recycling waste that is collected?


  4. Great post, Amanda. While in Japan, the cleanliness was amazing. We soon realise there were no bins (but I didn’t know why) and also soon learnt to carry our rubbish with us all day. As Mari mentioned there aren’t many bins in the UK but there is no sense of citizenship so people do not care about others. While at work is common place to find discarded paper cups, empty bottles and sweet wrappers amongst books…
    Here is mine:https://photographias.wordpress.com/2021/03/12/friendly-friday-challenge-recycling/


    1. Sweet wrappers amongst books! Empty bottles? What is going on there? Personally, I feel a stab of guilt if I was ever to simply drop a bottle anywhere. Are these people completely forgetful?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Friendly Friday Blog Challenge – Recycling

    On Thursday, March 11, 2021, Something to Ponder About wrote:

    > Forestwood posted: ” Japan is a very clean country. You won’t see or find > litter in the streets. Why? No litter anywhere in Tokyo and Kyoto Several > years ago, in Japan, a bomb placed in a busy commuter station waste bin > exploded and this on top of a 1995 domestic terr” >


    1. A circular economy – that is the buzz word isn’t it? That was the objective and there was a lot of info on the H&M website about that very concept. It is a fairly new term here, one that hopes get more attention from here on. I see my children’s generation not being particularly fond of reusing resources, those millenials, which is astounding as they have a far greater understanding of its importance in the climate debate.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I enjoyed reading your blog – thanks. I was in Japan a couple of years ago and noticed the same – though I didn’t know why. Now I do. I was pleased to read in your post about being aware of where recycling goes. We too in the UK sent/send a lot of our ‘recycling’ to poorer countries on the other side of the world – for money of course. If the main purpose is to reduce carbon emissions- this certainly doesn’t help. As you in say, we must carry on thinking of alternative ways to recycle stuff.


    1. Dr Pat- thank you for your comment and I loved reading that you enjoyed this blog post, particularly as it is on such a critical topic. The fact that third world countries accept other people’s rubbish is tbh, disgusting. I know their reason but still. We are being irresponsible and disrespectful. Not to mention where the trash finally ends up: In landfill; in animal habitat;the ocean or ??? Do you know how the trash is ultimately disposed of in GB?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Forestwood – nice name. My pleasure, it is good to communicate with like-minded people. I am not sure about GB, but I looked up our local authority a while ago. I will try and attach a photo – it was a worrying find. I think it has changed a bit since China refused our ‘rubbish’!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thankyou. You may call me Amanda. Forestwood is the name of an ancestral farm. I am on one hand an eight generation Australian and on the other, a grandchild of a Danish immigrant.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so right when you say a topic fraught with misconceptions, Knickers. I first heard about German recycling in the 80’s so they were undoubtedly the first, years before Australia ever considered anything at all. So I am sad to hear that they haven’t moved on from burning rubbish! MInd you, there is some rubbish that cannot be dealt with in other ways and land is so precious in Europe, landfill may not be possible. Do they capture the heat in the combustion process in some way, or does it merely escape to the atmosphere as carbon? For that doesn’t help at all.
      Thanks for being the first contributer to the challenge for this week. I hope we hear more from other countries.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I divide our trash as required, I put it out on the curb, but after that it’s gone. I don’t feel bad about not knowing where it goes because I cannot worry about everything. I let smarter people figure out what to do with the trash while at the same time trying to generate as little of it as possible.


    1. I agree Ally. We cannot worry about everything. As long as you are generating less trash and actively trying to do that, you are helping. For me, I like to know where it is going and what is happening as well. Sneaky folks don’t always do the right thing, as it turns out. Having said that, this post has uncovered some really smart people I am now aware of, so they are out there working hard.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. With all our technology it’s hard for me to understand why more, if not all, containers aren’t biodegradable. Our natural food store has takeout containers that are biodegradable. It’s a start but it’s not enough.

    I’m sure if there was an some incentive, it could happen. It just never seems to be a priority except for too few people. The waste we generate is overwhelming and the trash that’s tossed out in public is sickening.

    Thanks for providing a forum for my rant. Where to go from just talking about it though?


    1. Hi Violinist! Thanks for stopping by and commenting, and sorry for the delay in replying. I had to rescue this comment from the spam folder so it took a while to find it. I love rants! You are so right about demanding all food containers being biodegradable. The public can be more vocal in their buying preferences. I try to avoid buying containers that have excess packaging if there are other options, or question whether I can go without the product. Then there is the power of social media, creating awareness of the problem. You could run a campaign to get friend to support you in boycotting packaged fruit and vegetables or if Covid is a problem in your area. Packaged items that are packaged inside again – like stationery supplies. Email and write to your local politicians and stores. Encourage others to do so. It does help to add pressure to manufacturers if the demand for their product drops off.


    1. I read your wonderful post on Veena, yesterday! She is simply marvellous isn’t she? Even though I used to watch Australian Story, I haven’t watched in the last year or so. It is such a good program to highlight quiet achievers like Veena! How did you come across her?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you Lisa! It seems counter-productive to hike and then have a cigarette! First it is a disgusting habit that is anti-social these days and secondly, if for some reason you choose to do this, you should dispose of the butt responsibly.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I remember the horror of reading about what actually gets recycled from our recycling collection (not as much as one would hope) but I think we’re getting there. I’ve read that SA have now banned single use plastics and QLD is starting later this year. Wished it a more unified ban than by state! It’s great that there’s more though about a circular economy now and here’s hoping that the manufacturing side starts joining in too on the conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are really good things happening but we must all advocate for more, I think. The national government loves to put the hard issues back onto the states and thus we always have a fragmented approach with different rules and regulations which stymies progress. It could be so much easier. Tonight my social media feed featured a company that is a farm to hanger circular economy. Cotton garments and underwear that is Aussie made and sustainable. Music to my ears. Of course, it is much more expensive, yet I am happy to pay for a quality Australian made product rather than a large multinational consortium that injects most of its wealth into executive salaries.

      Liked by 1 person

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