Saturday, September 02, 2006

#122 Cleaning Up The Beach In Chiba, Japan

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During summer, I stayed in Chiba and went surfing almost every day.
The beach where I surfed most of the time was really nice.
Except for the fact that it was covered in rubbish.

When I first saw all the rubbish I wondered: why?
Where did all this rubbish come from?
Do people leave it here? Does it come in from the ocean?
Does anyone care that the beach is covered in rubbish?
Why doesn’t someone pick it up?
Why doesn’t the council pick it up?

I had a closer look and took some photos.

There was all kinds of rubbish.
Popular items included shoes, bottles, lighters and these little plastic sticks from ice creams.
And there were hundreds of these little brown bottles from energy drinks.

Some of it looked like it had been on the beach or in the sea for a long time.
Other things had obviously just recently been abandoned.

And some of it looked like it had come all the way China or Korea.

I know it might not be possible to clean up every beach in the world, or Japan, or even Chiba. But I thought if I spent an hour a day picking up some rubbish, it might make a bit of a difference.

So, I got some gloves and some bags, and started picking it up.

The first day I picked up rubbish for an hour. I picked up 7 bags.
I separated the rubbish – pet bottles, glass, burnable.

The next day I visited the council to tell them my plan.

I told them that I wanted to spend an hour a day picking up rubbish.
And I asked them if they could give me any rubbish bags and I asked them what I should do with the rubbish.

They didn’t seem very happy about my plan. But they reluctantly gave me some rubbish bags and they said they would collect the rubbish every day. We looked at a map and decided a pick up point. They then gave me a number to call.

I also asked them about their policy. Did they ever clean that beach? What was their policy about it? What was their plan for the future?
And they said they never clean that beach. They only pick up rubbish from the other beach – the main swimming beach where the lifeguards are.
And they didn’t seem to think that it was a problem that the beach was covered with rubbish.

So, the next day, I used the council bags. And I left the rubbish in the designated place, and the council picked it up.
But then they called me and they said they’d had a change of heart.
They said: “We’re very busy and we don’t have time to pick up rubbish every day. So please don’t pick up rubbish every day. If you want to pick it up, only do it once a month.”

Well, I was pretty disappointed, really. You’d think they’d be happy about someone wanting to clean the beach up.

But ... anyway ... I wasn’t going to let some grumpy public servants get in the way of my beach cleaning mission.

So, I bought some council plastic bags from the convenience store. And I took the rubbish home and sorted it out. I took the tops off the bottles and washed them out. And I put the rubbish out with the regular rubbish.

I continued picking up rubbish almost every day until I came back to Tokyo. I took before and after photos.

The council collects burnable rubbish three times a week. And they collect other rubbish about twice a month.
So the day before glass day I decided to pick up only glass.

Some of the rubbish was, like, dirty and smelly. But I could also see the beauty in some of it. So I made some ... art. Rubbish art.

I’ll be spending some more time at the beach this summer – and I plan to continue my mission.
There’s still a lot of rubbish on the beach – but I think I’ve made a good start : )

To be continued.


Music on today's show used with permission from and

Artist: Kenji Williams
From: New York, U.S
Album: EPIC
Tracks: Yelo, Deep Step
Music at

Artist: Galdson
From: Ortigueira, Spain.
Track: Come back home
Music at jamendo.

Artist: Manuzik
Album: Nouvelle Shortstories
Tracks: FatBackBeat GoodMood SurfSurLaPlage Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
Music at jamendo.

Tracks in order they appear:

1 Yelo by Kenji Williams
2 Deep Step by Kenji Williams
3 FatBackBeat by Manuzik
4 Deep Step by Kenji Williams
5 GoodMood by Manuzik
6 SurfSurLaPlage by Manuzik
7 Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah by Manuzik
8 Come back home by Galdson

I made a mistake in the credits with the names of the Manuzik tracks.
I wrote them how they appeared in itunes without checking back with the site ... oops!
Sorry Manuzik.