I haven’t been travelling during the period of 2018 to 2022 mainly due to Covid and also hustling hard running The Sustainability Project.

So it was nice to finally go back to the land of sushi this year, when my last trip was in 2017 🥹🥹

I remember back when I was a child, visiting Japan was a wonder.

Their love for packaging and presentation. The vibrant colours for their snacks. How snacks can be wrapped up beautifully in a cloth (furoshiki). The vending machine located everywhere.

No one does it better than Japan when it comes to visual merchandising and convenience.

Fast Forward 7 Years

Fast forward 7 years, where I’m wearing a different lens as compared to childhood, the packaging became a horror to me.

What should I do with the layers of packaging? What about the amount of waste generated with each layer of packaging? How much waste am I generating?

I love Japan, don’t get me wrong. I’m not shaming their culture or their relationship with the packaging.

But when life throws you into a situation like this and it’s hard to make a complete system change, this is how I cope with as a low waste tourist.

Take just 1 pamphlet

Another small thing I realised is when you check in or try to get information from various attraction sites, they give each person a pamphlet.

What my partner and I do is to take 1 for the both of us or take a photo of the information they are sharing with it.

Because we end up having a lot of paper with us now 😅

Refuse their extra packaging

In their culture, it seems a norm to give a small paper bag to store your purchases and then place that into a plastic bag.

What I usually do is just to tell them I don’t need any form of additional packaging and I’ll take the product as it is.

Not too sure if I offended any shops along the way as they all react pretty shocked but yay for Mother Earth eh?

Bring clear plastics or packaging to store your trash

It was hard to find trash bins along the side of the streets.

There was an occasion where I held my trash for 15 minutes trying to find the trash bin but to no avail.

So why not then reuse their excess packaging and use it to store your trash?

I reused clear plastics, paper bags, paper envelopes and any random plastic packaging I found to store my trash.

Observe how they sort their trash

This was a hard one because I realised all their bins differ.

Some required you to sort plastics and liquid waste and combustibles. Some required you to sort paper and glass bottles.

I stood at the rubbish bin for 5 minutes trying to see how the locals do it and imitate the trash (that did cause some stares).

But where there isn’t a chance to observe anyone, my best bet was to bring my trash back with me, get the help from the hotel staff instead and not contaminate their recycling bins.

Buy 1 portion to share or request for smaller portions

When travelling, of course we are going to indulge in food 👀

The trick that we learned is to buy 1 portion to share or request for smaller portions.

Especially during hotel breakfast where they cook for you, I usually ask for half portions to eat more variety.

I try to bring back the excess food in my stojo bowl too!

Eat slow food rather than convenience food

In the land where everything is convenient, it’s so easy to opt to eat the 7-11 sandwiches or bentos boxes that looks so pretty.

I try my best to avoid that unless I am super duper hungry.

Bring your own bags

They do charge for plastic bags nowadays so it’s best to bring your own bag out of convenience.

At the end of the day, there is only so much we can do while in another environment and country.

So, enjoy the trip and your time in Japan 🇯🇵

Don’t be like me, thinking too much about the waste I produce, I end up being guilty 🥹