Camila Villafañe

By Camila Villafañe

LifeBuzz Staff

The Simple Way This Japanese Village Became The First Trash-Free City In The World.

It can be such a pain to separate plastic and paper from the rest of the trash. But if you thought you had it bad, then you certainly haven't lived in the small village of Kamikatsu in southwestern Japan. The locals here don't just have a few categories to deal with; they have 34 of them, and they have to adhere to those rules in order to separate their waste correctly. The categories are so specific that it would give many of us a headache. But the efforts of each villager have given Kamikatsu its reputation for being a zero-waste town.

The village of Kamikatsu used to burn all of their trash, but in 2003, all of that changed.

The city realized that incinerating their waste was having a detrimental effect on the environment. In fact, studies showed that waste incinerators released toxins and greenhouse gases that ultimately hurt the town's food supply.

They sought change after realizing how their waste management program was hurting the environment.

The city's primary mission was to create a program that would produce zero waste. Of course, it wasn't always easy for the townspeople to get used to this change. There were 34 categories that came from separate waste now.

It took a while for the locals to get used to this new way of managing their waste products.

The categories were really specific, like steel cans, aluminum cans, paper flyers, paper cartons. They also had to wash, sort, and then bring their trash to a processing center, where workers double check to make sure that every piece of trash goes where it's supposed to go.

It took a while for the locals to get used to this new way of managing their waste products.

Great Big Story / YouTube

The town didn't just learn how to sort their trash, but to also recycle things they used to throw away.

Now there are places where locals create useful items using discard products, and they include turning old kimonos into teddy bears for children. The townspeople also will also hand in furniture and clothes they no longer want. In exchange, they can pick items that others have left, and it's free of charge.

Today, 80 percent of the garbage in Kamikatsu is either composted, reused, or gets recycled.

The remaining trash that can't be reused in any way, shape or form, gets sent to a landfill. Deputy chief officer of the Zero Waste Academy, Akira Sakano, continues to work with the town to ensure that it achieves its goal to become fully sustainable.

Page 1 of 3