Sunday, June 10, 2012

Trash in the river all the time

I’ve been thinking about writing on this topic for a while. It's been bothering me on and off during my time in Japan. Today I was finally pushed to write something because of the absurdity of something that found its way into the river this time. What could be so possibly horrible to get me so up in arms? A friggin’ freezer that’s what.

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A freezer? In the river? Yes, a white 4 foot tall top loader one to be exact. I am used to seeing all kinds of common trash you’d find on the side of roads here like Styrofoam meat packs, plastic lunch packs, plastic bags, drink bottles, and other assorted waste. I have also seen bikes in the river which isn’t all too surprising as it seems to be a common place to dump unwanted or stolen bikes. But seeing the freezer in the river really got under my skin.

There was a freezer dumped into the river near where I live.

Surely there must be more discreet places to dump large appliances than a river near a residential area? Not that I condone the dumping of trash but I’ve seen plenty of open lots, abandoned buildings, and tall grass areas that would be perfect for letting loose a large appliance without anyone knowing. So why a river? Did they think it would just sink into it? It’s about knee deep for goodness sakes.

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I mean, how can one be so careless and irresponsible as to deliberately dump a freezer into the river. That takes some forethought and effort. It’s not like tossing an empty plastic drink bottle out the car window or rolling a bike down an embankment. This is a seriously heavy item. Another thing about the location of where the fridge was disposed of was that it was on a side access path for the waterway dyke valve. This isn’t too easy to get into as it’s a 90 degree narrow offshoot road off an equally narrow bridge.

Dumping large appliances like fridges, washers, and TVs illegally seems to be a common thing here in Japan. I can’t say it’s a uniquely Japanese problem but from my own experience it seems like it happens at a much higher frequency here than I ever saw in southern California. My guess is that Japanese waste sorting laws and fees make dumping appealing than taking the legal route and paying for your appliances and large waste items to be properly recycled or disposed of. For things like the freezer in the river, I know for a fact that a few of the local scrap yards/recycle centers in town would have gladly taken the freezer off the original owner’s hands for free. I even think once a month or it may be a year that the city will take large items for a small price. But it’s too late for that isn’t it?

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Why do I know this? Well, it’s because I’ve had to find out how to properly dispose large electronics, appliances, and other things that can’t be thrown out with regular trash over the span of a couple of moves within this country. It annoys the heck out of me that I, a foreigner, too more time and effort into doing the right thing compared to what most people do here when they dump trash. I wonder if stuff like this would happen less often if the local municipalities made it cheaper and easier to dispose of stuff like this.

Not only near but mostly in it as well.

I think what is even worse than the fact that a freezer was tossed into the river is that it will most likely stay there for a few months while whatever may be in it leeches into the water. Ick. There are volunteer groups that pick up trash a couple of times a year but it’s not frequent enough for something like this. Plus those volunteers probably aren’t prepared for something as massive and cumbersome as a freezer.

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If I had the proper resources I would remove the damned thing from the river myself but its going to take a few people to maneuver it out of there and possibly the use of a crane truck. So that’s my beef with irresponsible dumping in Japan. It happens and it sucks.

Edit 6/11/2012

On my morning drive to work I passed by the river and noticed the freezer was turned upright and two guys were preparing to get it out of the river. I am not sure who those two men were but good on them. It was gone by the time I came home later in the afternoon.  My faith has been restored in humanity just a little.

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