Located on the island of Shikoku and surrounded by lush nature, Kamikatsu in Tokushima prefecture is a small town with a big ambition: it plans to reuse and recycle all of its waste by the end of 2020. The first initiatives started in the early ’90s, which paved the way for the laudable zero-waste target, set in 2003. This vision has not only turned the town of roughly 1,500 people into a tourist destination welcoming more than 2,000 visitors every year, it has also made Kamikatsu an international model for sustainable living. Here are 8 ways how they are working to become a zero-waste town.
Kamikatsu’s Zero Waste Academy is a non-profit organisation established to promote the town’s 2003 Zero Waste Declaration. It also provides advice on how to modify social systems and habits in order to eliminate waste. For example, the academy encourages manufacturers to consider implementing a repurchase programme for old products, in order to make recycling easier and eliminate illegal waste dumping. It also advocates for local governments to stop burning waste, and dumping it into landfills.
Kamikatsu residents are encouraged to separate their garbage into a whopping 45 categories, including one for metal caps, one for diapers and sanitary napkins, and another for mirrors and thermometers, to aid recycling. The town also recommends residents to either avoid using disposable items or purchase products that can be disposed of safely and easily.
Town residents used to burn organic rubbish in their gardens, but in the ’90s, the town gave each household a composter to turn food scraps into organic fertiliser.
The Kuru-kuru Shop at Kamikatsu’s waste collection centre is the town’s very own second-hand emporium, providing reusable items for free. Clothes, tableware and household items are all available – and visitors are welcome to take whatever they like. However, only locals are allowed to drop off unwanted items. Every product that goes into and out of the shop is weighed to calculate the amount of waste saved each year by reusing instead of just throwing things away.
Showing sustainability really is a team effort: two dozen local artisans work to upcycle old kimono, fabrics and koinobori fish-shaped streamers (like the ones that fly on Children’s Day, May 5) into bags, jackets, soft toys and other goods. At the Kuru-kuru Craft Center, you can buy these beautiful products and even create your own. There are workshops to design your own zori sandals, learn crocheting or practise saori hand-weaving.
Built from scrap material salvaged from demolished buildings, Kamikatsu’s Rise & Win Brewing Co. is literally a monument to sustainability. Its eye-catching facade, made from discarded windows, is a gorgeous piece of design, too.
Customers can bring their own bottles to fill up with Rise & Win’s Portland-style craft beer, but the brewery also offers reusable growlers for takeout.
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