Sunday, March 29, 2009


A few days ago I was buying a bottle of wine when the woman in the wine shop asked me if I drank beer. She then rushed out to the back room of the shop, not stopping to hear my answer ("Not often. I don't like it much ...") and came back with a free sample of some new Asahi brew. Rather than argue about it, I thanked her. She was so pleased with her little gift it would have been churlish to refuse.

I very rarely drink beer. I very rarely want to. The Man does not drink, and I decided to leave the can in my bicycle basket until I met someone who would actually drink it. I did not want to take it inside the house. I am currently trying to get rid of things I do not want, not add to them.

Yes, I have been trying to do some spring cleaning before classes start again. Yesterday I did some ruthless chucking out. Usually my housekeeping skills are abysmal, which is why now and again I have to get ruthless. If I didn't, our house would fill up until we were jammed in.

As a part of my ruthlessness, I decided to get rid of some little USB speakers that were perfectly functional and had hardly ever been used. They were not bad speakers, but shortly after getting them I was given some other ones that were slightly better.

The rubbish collection system here has become intensely complicated in recent years. We have collection days for burnable rubbish, cans, bottles, smaller items of unburnable rubbish, newspapers, books and magazines, clothing and so on. For the largest unburnable rubbish ("big gomi") we have to call to get it collected, and pay a fee. I lose track of when to put out what, and I was wondering when to put out the speakers. Which category did they fit into? Wasn't there a small appliance category? I wasn't sure.

In the old days, when you had something like the speakers which you did not need but which worked, you had the option of putting it out on big gomi day. This was three times a year around here (monthly in richer areas). Big gomi included everything from old refrigerators to old futons to books. Everybody knew when big gomi day was, and certain people (foreigners, recycle shop people, other dregs of society) would trawl the big gomi piles, picking out the good stuff. This had the double benefit of recycling perfectly serviceable goods, and getting rid of stuff you didn't want but which could still be used by someone else.

These days, you have to pay to get this stuff taken away. An individual pickup time is arranged, and the recycle people (and other dregs) don't even get a look-in.

I decided it was time to bring back elements of the big gomi system. The speakers had hardly been used. I would not have to pay to get them taken away – they were not that big – but it was a shame to just throw them away in the rubbish. Instead, I put them outside our gate on a non-rubbish day, yesterday, in a clear plastic bag to protect them from the elements and display them to passers-by.

They were still there at eight this morning.

By nine they had gone.

When I went out to my bicycle, and noticed, I grinned to myself. The old recycle system still worked! I like it when things are not wasted.

As I put my bag into my bicycle basket, I noticed that the can of beer had also gone.

I tried to figure out what I thought about this. The bicycle was inside the gate, not outside, and you had to open the plastic cover on the basket to even see the beer. I am not particularly happy about a stranger coming in our gate and checking out the contents of my bicycle basket.

On the other hand, I did not want the beer and was going to give it away anyway. And maybe it disappeared yesterday, when I was parked outside the supermarket and I just didn't notice. But still, that means someone unzipped the plastic cover. What did they do that for?



carrie said...

I was getting very anxious about you throwing away the speakers *lol*. I'm glad you figured out a way to pass them on! I just looked and there are five freecycle groups in Japan (, but I have no idea where they are in relation to you.

kenju said...

When we have usable items like that to give away, I take them to Goodwill. Surely Japan has some similar charity group?

tinyhands said...

I'm sure it was a foreigner, recycler, or some other dreg of society. ;)