A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

Bags, Bags, Everywhere…

In the land where wrapping is everything…

I was so utterly disappointed to see mountains of plastic bags in a garbage bin at a local bakery shop where people just moments before, feasted on sweet and savory baked goods. They bought it, consumed it on the store premises (presumably on the patio), tossed out the bag, and went home. Perfectly new bags, now sitting in the trash.

Just about two months ago, this same bakery had a bright idea: offer customers a free cloth bag in the hopes of getting people to bring it each time thereby a) reducing waste and b) reducing store costs. An absurd number of people went on that day…a line which seemed endless. The funny thing is? I have only seen ONE sole customer bring back that cloth bag. Shame on everyone! I thought everyone lined up to become more environmentally friendly but they just ended up going because they are pawns in the game of materialism. If you ask me, the shop should have started charging 10-yen for each plastic bag after that free cloth bag day… come to think of it, I am going propose that to the store manager next time I go.

Each plastic bag takes from 15 to 1000 years to break down. Can we afford to be so careless in our actions? Did you enjoy this erratic summer weather? Can it be blamed on La Nina…or might it be global warming?

Anyway, next time you are shopping, I hope you think to yourself: “Do I really need a bag?”


  • Simon says:

    some countries charge for plastic bags (estonia did if i recall correctly) and i think that would be great! or fine the companies who sell the products for littering, i think we would see some changes pretty quickly as a result of that.

  • Shaney says:

    I think I remember reading somewhere that in some country (maybe in Europe?) people get charged for the amount of garbage that they throw out, so that makes consumers shun excess packaging. If companies put too much packaging on things — like wrapping cookies individually — the consumers will unwrap them and leave the excess packaging for the grocery store to throw out. This means that the consumers put pressure on the grocery stores to sell goods that are not overly packaged and the grocery stores put pressure on the their suppliers not to use too much packaging. Maybe it’s time for Japan to consider a garbage tax… Is there any other way to stop the insane packaging and superfluous bagging?

  • dimaks says:

    from what i see around Tsukuba, I think Japan uses a lot of plastics — bags, wrappers and PET bottles.