Not too many years ago, the locals wouldn’t be caught good with recycled goods.  Nowadays, recycled goods shops are ubiquitous and frequented by more than the poor Japanese.  Although the used item market in Japan is relatively new compared to other countries, the second-hand goods market was worth approximately 2.62 trillion yen in 2016. Throughout major cities including Toyko, second-hand shops have sprung to life, especially those for vintage and used clothing. Furthermore, some major outlets around Japan are even considering selling clothing in their own department stores.

Japan has a long and illustrious history of mottainai culture which is ingrained in the country’s culture and mindset. Many people in Japan adhere to the philosophy of mottainai, meaning “don’t waste,” and try their best to reduce waste in their daily lives. This extends to recycling and waste disposal on a local and national level.

In 2004, Japan made the groundbreaking decision to adopt the 3Rs as its main recycling campaign model. Despite ranking in the bottom of the G7 countries, Japan has made significant progress in recent years by reducing, reusing, and recycling.

Japan is making strides towards becoming more environmentally conscious, despite having some embarrassing recycling statistics. The country has plastered “SDGs” all over its society, from train advertising to major TV celebrities discussing the importance of environmental practices. During the recent Olympics, Japan highlighted that it is working towards becoming carbon neutral. Three of Japan’s major sponsors for the Games, however, were major backers of coal developers.

Japan finally caught up to the trend of stores charging a fee for plastic bags in 2020, but in many supermarkets, customers can still use thinner plastic bags for free. These bags are often made of a more sustainable material, which helps reduce pollution and protects the environment.

Japan is struggling to recycle properly because society has wrongly associating environmentalism with recycling. To improve the situation, the Japanese need to change their mindset about environmentalism and focus on other measures such as reducing pollution.




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