The mottainai or the "regret for wasting"

The Japanese are famous for their organizational customs. It is perceived, from order in the home to the cleaning of its streets. Recycling, for example, is an art for them. A cultural practice In some cities, such as Kamikatsu, there are up to 45 classifications of types of garbage. And you complained about having 4 categories? Meet the mottainai or the "regret for wasting", which explains this Japanese behavior.

Mottainai or "regret for wasting" applies to recycling in Japan.
Mottainai or "regret for wasting" applies to recycling in Japan.

Integrated into your culture

Getting rid of garbage is not a simple task. In order to recycle it, the Japanese wash and dry it before taking it to the landfill. The system is complicated. Courses are held on how to dispose of waste in offices. In any house hangs a calendar that specifies the day each type of garbage should be thrown. One day the plastic, another the fabric, another the paper …

The program started two decades ago. At the beginning there was some resistance from the inhabitants of Kamikatsu. So they only had 22 categories of waste compared to 45 now.

What the Japanese feel to a greater or lesser extent is the mottainai or the "regret for wasting". It is a term currently used by Japanese environmentalists although its use has also been internationalized.

The broad Japanese recycling campaign of the 4Rs is based on this philosophical concept: «Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Respect».

Many Japanese cities have an excellent waste control system.
Many Japanese cities have an excellent waste control system.
From samurai to world wars

It is said that the word had a special place in the lives of the people of the ancient city of Tokyo. We talk about the Edo period of the samurai (1603-1868). «If you bought a kimono, you should use it between 10 and 20 years, repairing it again and again. When you couldn't take it anymore, you had to turn it into a cleaning cloth, ”explains Japanese teacher Shigemi Matsumoto in his language school blog.

«And when you could no longer clean with it, you could use it to light the fire for cooking. The ashes were not wasted either, but were used in the cleaning of the dishes. The people of the Edo period had very strong feelings for the 3Rs and respect for all things, ”he adds.

But many Japanese authors stress that the spirit mottainai, took off especially after World War II. It was when the country was lacking resources.

So, wasting a grain of rice meant belittling the work of the peasants. Another example of thorough treatment of garbage in each home is Yokohama. It is the second largest city in Japan. Its 3.7 million inhabitants must follow strict rules to separate waste into 15 types.

It is urgent to implement recycling policies similar to the Japanese in the world.
It is urgent to implement recycling policies similar to the Japanese in the world.
Garbage police

Separation before recycling is mandatory. Failure to comply with the rules, even after repeated warnings, may result in a fine of 2,000 yen (about US $ 18). Paulo Fujita, 74, acts as a "garbage sheriff." Check your neighbors' trash bags to correct possible irregular separations.

“Today is less (common), but the incinerable garbage is still mixed with the non-incinerable. Or it is put in bags of the wrong color, ”he explains.

In Japan, the separation is different in each city. But there are three basic rules that do not change: take the trash to the deposit before 8 in the morning, obey the days of collection and deposit the waste in semi-transparent bags.

Without a doubt, it is an example that many other countries could imitate.

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