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A town without garbage

  Kamikachi, Tokushima Prefecture, Japan, is a small town surrounded by mountains. Residents rely on the cultivation and sale of Tokushima Prefecture’s specialty tangerines and yuzu, as well as logging for a living. But as Japan’s timber imports increased, the small town’s timber industry declined. After that, it experienced a rare cold snap, and fruit tree planting was also greatly affected. The recession of the two major industries has gradually lost the original vitality of the town.
  In order to find a way out, many residents moved out, and the population of the town plummeted. In 2000, there were only more than 2,000 residents in the town, most of whom were in their 60s. At the same time, environmental problems caused by improper garbage disposal were becoming increasingly prominent. In 2003, Kamikatsu Town put forward the “Zero Waste Declaration”, and the town changed from the “dirty, messy” appearance to becoming “the most environmentally friendly town in Japan” and “the most beautiful village in Japan”. Resolved…
The “Zero Waste” campaign promotes sorting of up to 45 types of waste

  In Japan in the 20th century, garbage disposal was often incinerated or pulled into mountains for landfill. At that time, more than 1,900 incinerators were working every day throughout Japan, and even in a small town like Kamikatsu, there were two incinerators operating day and night. However, incineration will produce many harmful gases, which not only pollute the air, but also easily induce diseases and threaten people’s health.
  The Japanese government promulgated the “Packaging Waste Recycling Law” in 1997, which prohibits the burning of waste in the wild. Kamikatsu-cho also realized the importance of environmental protection, and followed it with the introduction of local policies. Policy regulations: 19 types of garbage that are not suitable for direct incineration need to be sorted out and recycled separately, and the remaining garbage is incinerated through two small incinerators in the town.
  In 2000, for the sustainable development of the town’s ecological environment, the Kamikatsu town government decided to close the only two incinerators and replace waste incineration with stricter waste classification. In 2003, Kamikatsu rose to fame with its “Zero Waste Manifesto”. Since then, the residents of the town have embarked on a task that they know is “impossible” – everything must be recycled.

  The idea of ​​​​full recycling of waste is very good, but because the garbage classification is too fine, the implementation process makes town residents scratch their ears.
  In people’s life, garbage is roughly divided into three categories: recyclable garbage, hazardous garbage and kitchen waste. However, in Kamikatsu-cho, garbage classification is particularly meticulous. So far, there are as many as 45 types. If you are not careful, the classification of certain items will be wrong. Like the common lipsticks in life, the paste part belongs to “combustibles”, and the lipstick tube belongs to “small metals”; one sock is “combustible”, and two socks belong to “old clothing”; a glass bottle, first of all, according to the Colors are classified as transparent bottles, brown bottles, other color bottles or recyclable bottles. Then, the bottle body and cap part of the bottle need to be disassembled and divided, and the label on the bottle belongs to another category… Such a complex classification is already a headache, but it must be even more difficult for the town residents to put it into action.

  Some older residents in the town can’t understand why the behavior they have been doing all their lives – throwing garbage and burning garbage is not right now? The restaurant owner is even more troubled. The garbage produced by the back kitchen needs to be recycled every day, and it takes a lot of time to deal with it. But in order to restore the beauty of Kamikatsu Town, make the living environment better, and make your own body healthier, everyone gritted their teeth and made up their minds to work together. While they supervise themselves every day, they also supervise each other with their neighbors. If someone is upset, they will encourage each other. In this way, it is extremely difficult for them to complete a task.
  Someone has done an experiment: how long does it take to dispose of 1908 garbage according to the classification method of Kamikatsu Town? The answer is 1 hour and 44 minutes. Indeed, town residents spend a certain amount of time every day to dispose of garbage, and according to relevant statistics, the recycling rate of garbage in Kamikatsu Town is nearly 80%, and the average daily garbage discharge per person is less than 500g, which is only the average garbage discharge in Japan. 1/3 of the amount.
  Local residents once said: “Everyone has to do something so that our children and grandchildren can have a more peaceful life.” Therefore, they also strive to achieve “no waste, only misplaced garbage”.

  In order to promote the “zero waste” movement, the Kamikatsu town government has implemented many measures. In 2005, a specific public welfare activity organization, “Zero Waste Society”, was established mainly by the above-Katsu Town government. The organization manages the local garbage collection and distribution center “garbage station”, and is also responsible for organizing various activities to popularize and promote the concept of zero waste. In 2006, a “Zuanzhuan Store” was opened next to the distribution center, which is a second-hand recycling store specializing in recycling clothes, household items and furniture. In 2007, a “Zuanzhuan Workshop” was opened to repair those unwanted things, which was very popular with the villagers.
  The residents of Kamikatsu Town have insisted on sorting and disposing of garbage for 18 years since the statement was issued in 2003. From the rules and regulations that made residents miserable at first, garbage classification has become a daily life. The residents of the town have learned to live in harmony with nature in the process of disposing of garbage, and their homes have been rejuvenated. In June 2018, Kamikatsu was selected by the United Nations as one of the “Sustainable Future Towns” and became the most beautiful town in Japan.
‘Leaf Economy’ Prosperity Addresses Aging Population

  At first, the residents of Kamikatsu-cho made a living by planting fruit trees and logging, but due to the recession of the timber industry and the huge impact of the rare cold current, people lost their source of income. In order to support their families, most of the young and middle-aged people in the town went to other places, and more than half of the people left behind were over 60 years old. The problem of population aging is very serious.
  Later, Yokoishi Chiji, a staff member of the local agricultural association, accidentally discovered a new business opportunity that would benefit the long-term development of the town during a business trip to Osaka. At the time, he was dining at a haute couture restaurant and found that the restaurant’s dishes were decorated with plastic flowers, leaves and branches. This immediately inspired Yokoishi. He believed that “Kamikatsu Town is rich in natural resources, and there are as many real flowers and real trees as possible, which may become a selling point.” So, in 1986, the brand “color” was born. The word “color” represents various leaves and seasonal flowers, such as the leaves of maple, toon, and persimmon trees, as well as plum blossoms, cherry blossoms, and peach blossoms. The establishment of “Color” has made the new industry of “leaf economy” in the small town emerge as the times require.

  The “leaf economy” is closely related to Japanese cuisine. Japanese cuisine, also known as Japanese food, pays attention to natural color, delicious taste, various shapes and sophisticated utensils. The dishes are selected in different containers according to the season and dishes. The patterns on the containers and the decorations used to decorate the dishes also vary according to the season. In Japanese food, sashimi and tempura are often decorated with leaves and flowers, which are called “wives”. Although the “wives” itself is not edible, it is only used to add a sense of season to the dishes and make the visual beauty to a higher level, but if it is not in the dishes, it will be much bleak. Therefore, Japanese high-end cuisine also has strict requirements on the “wife”. The chef will choose the shape, size, color, and seasonality of the “wife” according to the characteristics of the dish itself. Kamikatsu-cho is the best place to produce “wives”.
  Kamikatsu Town was originally a traditional flower and tree production area. There are many simple flower sheds in the town, which can grow flowers and make them bloom earlier than the flowering period. The local forest coverage rate is more than 80%, and there are more than 300 kinds of trees. It is also very convenient to pick. Such favorable natural conditions have gradually developed the “leaf economy” in Kamikatsu-cho.
  The production line of “leaf economy” is roughly divided into four parts: picking, washing, screening and sales. The first three steps in this production line do not require superb skills and heavy labor, and are operations that the elderly can easily complete. Therefore, the old people in the town joined the “leaf economy” and had a source of income.

  Economic sources alone are not enough. Hengshi hopes that the townspeople can go further and gain more on this road. He visited many restaurants and summed up a set of leaf picking rules according to people’s eating habits and market demand laws in four seasons. The residents of Kamikatsu Town pick different leaves according to the rules and seasons, and distinguish and filter the shape, size and color depth of the produced leaves. Such perfect leaves are naturally favored by high-end restaurants in major cities in Japan, and residents have more income.
  Although the development of the “leaf economy” in the small town is earlier than garbage classification, the environmentally friendly town is the icing on the cake for the “leaf economy”. After the implementation of strict garbage classification, the natural environment of Kamikatsu Town has been greatly improved, and it has become the most beautiful village in Japan. The flowers and leaves picked in such villages must be green, healthy and pollution-free. Therefore, restaurants all over the country have cooperated with Kamikatsu, and orders are flying like snowflakes in the wind. It is quite difficult to complete these orders by manpower alone. In order to receive and complete orders more efficiently, the town carried out computer training for the elderly to keep up with the times and promote the healthy development of the “leaf economy”.

  Under the “leaf economy”, the town is revitalized: old people who used to have nothing to do after retirement, now meet in twos and threes, pick leaves, and have a good income, including a monthly income of 2 million yen (equivalent to RMB about 100,000 yuan) and residents with an annual income of up to 10 million yen (equivalent to about 500,000 yuan).
The concept of sustainable development with natural beauty and creative architecture

  Thanks to the continuous efforts of the residents of the town, the ecological environment of Kamikatsu Town has been improved to a new level, and the lives of the residents have been guaranteed, and more people have begun to understand this most beautiful town in Tokushima County.
  In Kamikatsu-cho, there are beautiful scenery all year round. In spring, rows of terraced fields halfway up the mountain and the trees on the mountain form a green ocean, and cherry blossoms sway along the road; in summer, the rain is increasing, the mountains and forests are cool and pleasant, and the white satin-like waterfalls pour down from the blue-gray boulders, splashing Layers of water splashes; in autumn, maple leaves all over the mountains are red like fire, the rice paddies in the terraced fields are brilliant like gold, and the branches of citrus in the orchard are bent; in winter, it is quiet and peaceful, and the snowflakes cover the hills, treetops and eaves gently
  … Rui, beautiful scenery, such a small town surrounded by mountains, no one wants to destroy its ecological beauty, so in the architectural design of Shangsheng Town, people have also made a lot of efforts to make the building and environmental protection green and sustainable. Development concepts go hand in hand.
  The town has a building called “Public House”, completed by famous architect Takashi Nakamura, which is a combination of grocery store, food store, bar, brewery, etc. The building candidly showcases the concept of “zero waste”: staggered abandoned windows form floor-to-ceiling windows; repurposed cedar wood makes red walls; recycled masonry scraps are used to pave the aisles; After processing, they are turned into chandeliers; old newspapers are turned into wallpaper; the tiled floors in the house are also collected from abandoned houses… Moreover, the goods sold here are all weighed in bulk, and residents need to bring their own pockets to buy.
  Coincidentally, “Mr. Don’t Chop Trees” Nakamura Takuchi also left a “?” in Kamikatsu Town – Hotel Why, which is the world’s first “zero-waste” hotel. The entire hotel is still made of discarded waste, which is re-used and transformed. When viewed from the air, it appears as a huge red question mark, as if it is constantly reminding and asking the world: Can we insist on sustainable development?

  There is a “Moon Valley Hot Spring” in Kamikatsu-cho, and many foreign tourists come here for the hot spring. The hot spring hotels here also follow the idea of ​​”zero waste” and rely on biofuels for heating. Of course, it is not only the comfortable and pleasant hot springs that attract tourists, but also the unpretentious cuisine that is very different from the haute cuisine. In such a fairyland, language cannot become a barrier to friendship, and people from different countries can laugh together at a certain interesting picture.
  In addition, there are some special places in Kamikatsu-cho: the master’s practice cave in Jiyan Temple – “Acupoint Meditation”, which is quiet and solemn; the “Millennium Forest Exchange Hall” connecting people and the forest, which also provides many experience programs; A unique Japanese-style shop selling souvenirs from Kamikachi…
  Residents of Kamakatsu have created a legend with their day-to-day actions. Such an environmentally friendly and beautiful town presents a sustainable development model, which is of great reference value for garbage disposal and recycling around the world.

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