Voices
in
Japan

have your say

Do you think we use too many plastic bags in our daily lives and what do you do to cut back on the use of such bags, especially when you go shopping?

15 Comments

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

15 Comments
Login to comment

Definitely agree. I always take my own bag and refuse the extra vinyl bags. I cannot understand the rationale for these in any case. They put items in them that wouldn't spill anything at any angle and leave things that would cause a mess like eggs unvinyled.

Japanese present wrapping is art, but putting shrink wrapped items in a vinyl bag and then in a plastic bag is meaningless.

Basic ecology and waste management should be an important part of the school curriculum.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Japan is the land of plastic.

I always take my own canvas shopping bags. Plastic bags should be banned, or at least they should be paid for. There is too much wrapping and packaging on products, especially food, and too many single use items - plastic straws, cups, those stupid little cups of fake milk. Why are eggs in plastic boxes and not in tough cardboard cartons, as in the UK? It's ridiculous. Why are fruit and vegetables wrapped in plastic, often on styrofoam trays? Too many PET bottles in circulation too.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

They overuse plastic here like wild animals!

I almost always refuse plastic bags unless I really need them when I'm buying lots of stuff.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

As others have said, plastic bags are only a fraction of the problem here. The country is obsessed with sorting garbage correctly, puffing out their chests about how everything's separated into different plastic bags, as opposed to dumpsters or individual trash cans at the curb as is the case in most of the world.

And let's not forget that recycling plastic also requires energy. If we simply used 90% less than we do currently, at least in terms of absurd retail packaging, then far less plastic would be produced in the first place. Do my crackers need to come inside a cardboard box, which when opened reveals 10 packages with 5 crackers each. Do my bananas need to come inside a plastic bag? Do my ochuugen or oseibo have to consume enough packaging for content 10 times its size?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Japan is the land of hydrocarbon materials, from overpackaging almost every item sold at the grocery store to the amount of discarded PET bottles and umbrellas.

jcapan made a great point that while recycling all these PET bottles and “pu-ra” plastics seems environmentally conscious, it actually takes a ton of additional energy to recycle them and it would be infinitely better to just use less plastic in the first place.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I agree with other posters that it is wrong to see plastic bags in isolation and that all single-use plastics should be considered.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I ride my bicycle to work everyday along a river whose banks are clogged with plastic garbage. In the winter (when the weeds and grass are gone) I always bring a bag and gloves and attempt to clean a section on my way to and from work. I usually pick up 50-100 pieces for every 10 metres or so of riverside and easily 90% of that is plastic bags.

Its an absolute disgrace that so many are used and disposed of like that (most end up in the rivers after getting washed there by rainfall).

I applaud the major supermarket chains that have stopped giving them out and now only give them to customers who request them and pay a 5 Yen fee. That has probably had a major effect on reducing them.

Convenience stores on the other hand are the worst culprits - they just automatically give you a plastic bag no matter how small the purchase, and also throw in plastic straws, spoons, forks, etc without asking. Its annoying because I have to be very pro-active in telling them "No" and when I forget, I'm left with a bunch of plastic garbage that serves no purpose.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Agreed with most of the posters above. Charging 5 or 10 yen per bag seems like a good start. They could even get inventive and for example let you off the consumption tax when you bring your own shopping bag(s).

I confess that I often forget to take a shopping bag, especially when I am not 'planning' to go shopping but just dropping in on my way home. Back in Europe I have to gradually relearn to think ahead and pack a bag. It feels good not to have to add another plastic bag to that growing pile in the corner of the kitchen.

*Incidentally I was watching a leg of the Tour de France last night and the Peloton was tossing food and drink related stuff left and right into the fields. Should we assume that it is all bio-degradable waste?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

When I came to Japan way back when they had no Starbucks, and no take out coffee of any kind that you could walk around with and drink (no tumblers or such cups). Thermoses, yes, but you have to stop and open them, pour a cup into the open lid, etc. So, to get to the point, when I would go to McDonald's or Mister Donuts to get "take out" coffee, despite me saying I needed no bag, they would always put it in a tray, put the tray in a paper bag, then put that in a plastic bag, only to watch me take them all out again and put the bags on the counter and walk away with it in hand. Then they threw the bags out in other plastic bags.

That's changed a bit, but there is still the tendency to overwrap and create waste. I recently don't carry a backpack to work, and just a small bag, so I can't carry a lot in it. As such, I often take plastic bags at convenience stores if I'm going long distances and can't carry the goods in my hand. But, I always reuse the plastic bags as trash bags, or for some other means, and I refuse when and where possible. When I plan to go shopping, I take my backpack and other other carrying bags.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

So much lunch time waste from single use bento trays. I've got myself pretty much weaned off of those. Bring my own lunch in reusables or dine out using real plates and cutlery. I almost never buy pet bottles anymore - carry a thermos of tea or coffee and a reusable water bottle.

Looking forward to finding reduced plastic toothbrushes. Bamboo handles perhaps?

I am still seeing most toothpaste with microbeads. When will that end?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

No, because plastic bags are easily recycled, and the vast majority of them are. Plastic is a byproduct of petroleum production, and as large amounts of petroleum is processed into gas and diesel, the materials for plastic are abundant.

Pollution is a problem, particularly that which ends up in the oceans. But only 3% of the plastic found in the oceans comes from develped countries. Drastic reduction in the use of plastics in developed countries would have a negligible effect on reducing plastic waste in the oceans.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

No, because plastic bags are easily recycled,

They aren't.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I have yet to see a Japanese person refuse a plastic bag or the accompaniment of other plastic accoutrements that are directed their way.

Why not?

Certainly, lack of education is one factor and the other being

a commercialized life of convenience allowing them to focus more on school,university, jobs etc.

However, the plastic bag problem is nothing compared to dumped waste from ships, commercial fishing industry waste eg lost nets.Military waste dumping via live round exercises,chemical and radiological activities etc.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

No, because plastic bags are easily recycled, and the vast majority of them are.

This is just wrong. The recycling rate for all plastics is about 20% and PET bottles account for much of that, the recycling rate for plastic bags is extremely low since the plastic used is lower quality and more difficult to turn into useful products.

But only 3% of the plastic found in the oceans comes from develped countries.

This might be true, but preventing it from entering the oceans per se is only one of many issues. You just need to take a look at how many plastic bags there are clogging up every urban river and every inch of coastline in this country to realize the seriousness of the problem domestically.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites