Kyoto Environments - tuesday 2006-08-22 0802 last modified 2012-03-04 0116
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Environmentalism is a given in Japan. In modern terms, an oil-poor island nation's best hope is to aim for efficiency above all else. In older terms, Shinto and Buddhist syncretism, evident in particular in Kyoto's multitude of sectarian temples and shrines, gives rise to a spirituality that encompasses land, forests, rivers, and mountains. Given Japan's unique combination of ancient and new, it is not surprising that a global call for environmentally friendly standards would be named after Kyoto.

You can tell. Many of Kyoto's sidewalks are rubberized, signs that they appear to be doing something useful with their used tires instead of burning them in trash heaps. Air conditioning is not permanently on everywhere; certain public spaces such as elevators, escalators, and bathrooms are not subject to temperature controls. Apparently governmental buildings do not use air conditioning at all (leading to legislature that mandates city employees not wear ties to work). Public transport is widely used in Tokyo, as are bikes (which are registered to their owners). There are very few paper products for public consumption; to dry your hands after using the restroom, shake them off and wave them around.

Japan separates its rubbish into combustible and plastic/metal recyclable. There are very few municipal garbage cans, and all consumer areas appear to subscribe to the same separation. Recycling of certain goods is strongly encouraged; the rest gets burned. Even some plastic goods are advertised as dioxin-free, so if they do get burned, they don't poison the ground.

That's how it should be done.

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