Monday, February 2, 2009

thoughts on Japan + environment

Living in a Japanese home made me all too aware of the conservation that occurs in everyday life. I quickly came to learn that due to a severe lack of natural resources, including natural gas, oil and land, there is a consistent and constant effort made by most people (at least where I was living), to conserve. There are separate collection days for recyclable and non-recyclable wastes. Monday, paper and food wastes, Tuesday, PET bottles and metal cans/items, Wednesday, a sound truck rattles through the neighborhood and picks up old appliances. Recycling bins are on every street corner, next to every vending machine, and in every train station. Even the Keihan Railway, which runs between Osaka and Kyoto, has its ticket stubs recycled into toilet paper that is used in all of the Keihan station restroom facilities.
Use of bicycles and public transportation are the norm rather than the exception in the densely populated suburbs. Combined with the rising cost of gas, the equivalent of roughly seven to eight dollars a gallon (while I was living there), and the obscenely expensive fees associated with obtaining a drivers license as well as owning and maintaining a vehicle, members from all levels of society use the highly convenient and wide network of passenger railways. In addition, stringent carbon dioxide emissions restrictions have made Japan one of the world’s leaders in the development of low-emission vehicles with high fuel economies. Being a signatory and the host of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, Japan has made giant steps under its treaty obligations to reduce climate change.
As a culturally and historically significant country, Japan will persist in being influential in the global political realm and economy. It is my belief that a deep-seeded appreciation and attitude toward nature that exists in traditional art, religion and culture has given Japan a backdrop for making such radical and progressive changes in environmental protection and conservation in recent years. This cultural influence has significantly attributed to the country’s progressive environmental legislation and great leaps in the development of environmentally friendly technologies in its private industries. Japan, because of its lack of natural resources and technological and innovative wealth, will not only be seen as a country on the forefront of drastically altering the way the world uses valuable natural resources, but also as a more sustainable and environmentally friendly nation.
Or. Maybe this whole big thing I just wrote is just a whole big piece of crap that came from propaganda I've read/been influenced by?

Oh, and if you haven't heard about the Steelers... well... even if you aren't a huge football fan (and maybe I'm just biased because I'm from Pittsburgh) the super bowl was truly an incredible thing to watch.


  1. Oh, Bridget, I certainly hope that wasn't a 'propaganda' post. I really do think most of it is true. I had a student last spring who was in Seattle for a three-month course on 'the environment and sustainability.' He personally practiced the art of conserving--which I wish we saw more of here in America.

    We have lots of trees in the greater Seattle area, which is one thing my Japanese students always comment on. I get the idea that the people tend to live in densely populated cities in Japan that have no trees or flowers, but they do leave the countryside alone. Your picture seems to bear that out--but, you were there, so tell me what you found.

    Again, a very well written post.

    P.S. Congrats to the Steelers!

  2. Thanks for the heads up about the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy Book. It's one I definitely need in my personal library here at home! :-)


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