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Plastic bags

For some strange reason I feel compelled to write about plastic bags - it's been an itch for the past five years but has only just starting to grate on my nerves. I don't like nagging about things, and despite the easiness of doing it in a country where I don't feel directly responsible for the environment, as I am not a national, I still feel urged to. My gripe is of packaging in general, especially the little plastic bags you get when you buy something from the convenience store.

Everyone knows Japan is the packaging capital of the world, and sometimes I just want to say "Stop there a moment," to the cashier at the store, and ask, "Do you really think I really need a plastic bag for this JY100 pack of gum?" This summer really did leave me nonplussed when, after having purchased an ice lolly (the kind that melts), I was asked by a seemingly intelligent-looking cashier - in English - if I wanted a bag. I looked at her and said, "Do omoimasuka? Hitsuyo desuka?" (What do you think? Is it necessary?), and took the lolly, already melting, off the counter to speed up her decision-making. If there were no plastic, no bags, what would we do? Unimaginable!

Here's a scenario: let's suppose that we run out of space on the planet that we're on, and colonize Mars. Something tells me that the first to be there will be the Japanese, because they are in dire need of tatami-space. However, to keep the standard of living that they are accustomed to, in terms of beautifully wrapped products, for every shuttle carrying a handful of colonizers, another one would be needed to carry the indispensable plastic-making machines.

I really do think it is time Japan woke up to its responsibilities regarding the overuse of resources for the sake of convenience. Japan has a duty in the upcoming years in reducing it's share of greenhouse gasses and atmospheric pollutants, and is well aware of the protocols made on it's very own soil in Kyoto only six years ago. Why not do your bit for the environment: When they offer the bag, say "Ii desu." (not necessary).

Many thanks to Tom Hamilton for this Rant.

Metropolis Online
381: The Crisp Linen Suit Syndrome
Unbearable heat and crisp linen suits
380: Smile
Smile when you see another foreigner
379: What sign are you?
When signs start to complicate life
378: Off with the gloves
Battle of the readers
377: Stop before you shop
Stores that scare away gaijin
376: Home sweet home
Modern housing in Japan?
375: Nihonjinron
Theories of Japaneseness and insecurity
374: Plastic bags
Do we really need them for everything?
373: Doctor knows best?
A scary visit to a Japanese hospital
372: Don't forget the finger wagger
So you've never complained about Japan?
371: A-choob tale
The Sneezing Salaryman
370: The gaijin language snob
Dare to cross his path
369: Nihongo
One man's struggle...
368: Making sense of Roppongi
Why do I keep going back?
367: Hateus Japanus Expatricus
Great bar bores of the world
366: Plants and animals
Darwin's turning in his grave
365: No more groping - for now
Women only train cars
364: Man's best friend
Pets have it rougher
363: In praise of Tokyo taxi drivers
A good ride all around
362: The Big Boot Brigade
Masters of the oversized-shoe
361: The case of the missing garbage cans
Where art thou o garbage can?
360: Ramen for the soul
Japanese chicken soup
359: Revenge of the nerds Part II
Geeky guys with hot girls
358: Little old ladies
Grandmas packing a punch
357: Starbucks sanctuary
Stop the Starbucks insanity
356: Pet name problem
My sweet little... carrot?
355: Unclean Jeans
Jeans McNasty
354: My chosen profession
Lindsay Nelson's the name, English teaching's the game
352/3: Merry Christmas... sort of
Merry and not-so-Merry Christmas in Japan
351: Last temptation of rice crackers
Breaking big bills the hard way
350: Revenge of the nerds
Gaijin girls are just jealous

ISSUES 300-349
ISSUES 250-299
ISSUES 233-249