The reason Tetsu checks with me is because putting out garbage is a big deal in Japan. In some ways Japanese are very environmental conscious. The first week I arrived in Japan over 30 years ago, I was lead to the communal kitchen that I would be using and was shown two garbage pails. One was marked "burnable garbage". The other "non-burnable garbage". My first Japanese lesson was to learn the Chinese characters for the two types of garbage and I was also instructed in what was burnable and what wasn't burnable. This is more complicated that it seems...
Let's see. On Tuesdays and Fridays we throw out normal, burnable garbage. All garbage has to be thrown out in opaque plastic trash bags. Black plastic bags (they were used for years) were banned from our city a few years ago. Everyone has to be able to SEE what everyone else is throwing out so that people don't sneak something non-burnable in there. There are garbage stations all over the neighborhood which are just areas marked off on empty lots with a net nearby to throw over the garbage. We are plagued by crows who scatter trash everywhere when they get a chance.
Twice a month on Wednesdays there is the "Non-burnable Trash Day". On these days all plastic bottles and glass and cans have to be washed and the paper and plastic removed and placed in their appropriate crates. BUT, other non-burnable trash such as Styrofoam meat trays have to be taken to the supermarket to be recycled as do waxed milk cartons and plastic grocery bags.
Once a month on Thursdays there is "Dangerous Garbage Day". This is the day to throw out aerosol cans (make sure they have a hole punched in them first), batteries and broken glass.
Another day is "Large Garbage Day". This is the day for electric appliances and furniture or bedding. Beyond a certain size you have to pay a fee for it to be taken away but smaller, "large" items can be thrown out free of charge.
Let's see. Once a month there is an "Old Paper Day". This is obviously for old newspapers, magazines and books. For some reason the papers can't be stuffed into paper sacks, they have to be tied properly which is odd because the newspaper companies give out paper sacks for disposal that we can't use.
Then there is garbage that doesn't fit in any category, rusted cans and parts of bicycles. Tire caps, broken signs. Most of this is stuff found along the streets or in the forest but you're not allowed to throw them out with everything else; that "ownerless garbage" gets taken away on specials days set aside for community service. If you can't wait for any of these days there are the wandering garbage men that drive around the neighborhoods with speakers on their pick-up truck and they announce that they will take away your old bicycles that day for a fee or on a different day they are picking up old papers (and for some reason for the paper they will give you a roll or two of toilet paper in exchange!)
And what if you don't pay attention to the garbage rules and put out your garbage on the wrong day? Tetsu has been accosted for leaving labels on our cans and I have had someone call me and tell me my garbage was out on the wrong day (they opened the bag and found a receipt with our name on it!) And twice a year I get to be Garbage Monitor for our garbage station and I go out there and make sure everyone is obeying the rules, shoo the crows away and pick up after the garbage men have come and gone.
Just another example of a community working together. Sometimes I think it would be easier on everyone if we just had private disposal services...