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Letters To The Editor: December 1997

Author: Miro, Issue: December 1997, Topic: Letters To Or From The Editor

As part of its activities, the information center sponsors a coffee hour discussion group every second Wednesday of the month from 2 to 4 pm, with invited guests giving a presentation from their area of expertise or experience. The guest for December is Father William Donegan, priest of the Tsukuba Catholic Church, who, very appropriately, will be discussing the celebration of Christmas around the world, including how the various traditions, such as Christmas trees and presents, Christmas cakes and turkeys, etc. developed. Likewise, he will deal with how the story of Santa Claus developed and how that has been adapted to tropical countries and Southern Hemisphere countries where it is summertime. If you have some unusual or distinct Christmas tradition in your country, won't you join us and share that with us? Everyone is welcome, and you can come and go as you please. Complimentary snacks along with tea and coffee are also served. So come out and join us.For 4 years, there was in Japan a tentative plan for a garbage differential separation and disposal system. I will refer to that as the "Japanese dream." As a big dream, it was well structured and cleverly based. I am here to mourn for it.

In the sixties, a western intellectual wrote a piece on the irreversible changes in the society of that time; he called it the disappearence of the fireflies. As it went, not only fireflies disappeared, but also honest intellectuals as social figures. Nowadays, we can count on Japanese not liking to criticize, for fear offending their leaders. Often it is the gaijin who is the one who raise his voice in order to protect the community. The local leaders fortunately don't like to be put on the wrong side, and so it easier to make them accept changes in the original plans to ameliorate the project. In this way also, the community get the satisfaction to see that it was worth making their voice heard. But the large scale projects approved by the egg-heads of the central ministries are not to be changed by local communities.

So it goes with the new general plan for the garbage disposal, that is based on big powered incinerators with high chimneys. The fact that they are more efficient doesn't imply they are the best at hand. Of course the reaction starting from plastic derivated chloride-carbon compounds and ending in dioxins occurs much more easily at the lower temperatures of small incinerators. But you should NEVER burn plastics in first place! At the higher temperatures of the large incinerators, the production of dioxins can still occur, and we are going to make a big fire by mixing all garbage together. Of course nobody will detect any increase in dioxins at the ground, mainly because they ARE at increased levels already, but also because the chimneys will disperse the ashes high in the sky, and thus over a large territory.

I am witnessing a big feast of hard and soft plastics being reclassified as burnable, and even if I know that they were also burned previously. Thus, I will not buy the story that this is an act of pragmatism and that the first plan was too idealistic and unrealizable. The "pragmatism" in this new plan is not that this is the best choice we have to handle the problem, but that when we finally see the problem, it will be too much late -- A new large-scale "Minamata" disaster -- The Japanese-Vietnam dioxin defeat. Nobody would accept a trouble-making incinerator if they knew that it's for plastic only, and so someone invented the smooth solution of burning it all together, because they don't give an alternative choice.

I want to leave you at least with some hope: you can change it. New rules in the public spaces:

Trash which can be incinerated: garbage cans with red labels

  • Wastepaper
  • Kitchen Waste (food)
  • Plastics (caps, tubes, saranwrap, etc)
  • Aluminum foil (?!!) --

Trash which can NOT be incinerated: garbage cans with blue labels

  • glassware
  • metals
  • rubber

Recycle (Recycle box in corridor)

  • Paper Cans

Where is the box for the PET bottles? We haven't got any rule for it.


<< Tsukuba International School Update: November 1997 | Master Index | New University Rector >>

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