Views #650 | Intermediate 5

Trash Talk

Keiko discusses how trash disposal is different in Japan and The States.

Todd: So, Keiko, so you lived in The States and they have a different system of collecting trash. Can you explain the difference of collecting trash in America and collecting trash in Japan?

Keiko: OK, my personal experience, in The States you just put everything in one place whereas in Japan you have to divide it into five different places but actually where I live in Kawasaki it's actually quite easy so I only have to divide into two garbage: one burnable, the other one non-burnable.That's it, but in the states, you just put everything together.

Todd: Right, it's really weird cause when I go home and I have trash I feel guilty. There's two things I feel strange about: One is in Japan I take off my shoes, when I go home, in America I feel strange walking in a house with my shoes on and the other is trash. When I go to throw away trash, I'm just throwing it away and I don't have to put in the right bin. It always feels a little strange.

Keiko: But that means that somebody's -- at the end, somebody is doing all the dividing work in The States, right?

Todd: Unfortunately, I don't know. I think maybe some communities but maybe a lot, they just bury it. I think in The States, cause we have a lot more land, we just bury a lot of the trash. We don't burn it like you do in Japan, so.

You were saying that in Japan, it's different from region to region how you separate trash.

Keiko: I think Tokyo is really strict, whereas Kanagawa is a little bit easy and I don't know why but I have to be even more careful when I'm at work, so even when I'm busy, I eat my lunch, you know, I take out my lunch garbage and I have to put, you know, chopstick here, a plastic box here, and a plastic bag here, and yeah, it's quite, quite a work

Todd: I hear ya. OK. Thanks a lot Keiko.

Learn Vocabulary from the lesson


We divide the garbage into burnable and non-burnable.

'Burnable' garbage is what you can safely burn. Some things will burn, but you shouldn't burn it, because it will cause problems for the environment. Notice the following:

  1. At the end of the weekend we have a big fire and destroy all our burnable garbage.
  2. We have three bins: burnable, recyclable and regular garbage.

feel guilty

In the States, I feel guilty when I put my trash all in one place.

You 'feel guilty' when you do something that is wrong. Sometimes you know it is wrong when you do it, and sometimes you find out later that it was wrong. Notice the following:

  1. Lying to people makes her feel very guilty, and she usually confesses later.
  2. I feel so guilty when I have to throw away food.


I always feel strange when I don't put away trash in the right bin.

A 'bin' is a large container, usually made of plastic or metal. In this case it is something that holds garbage, but bins can be used to hold or store many things. Notice the following:

  1. Do you have a bin for your recycling?
  2. I have so many clothes that I have to keep them in bins under my bed.


Because we have a lot more land in the States, we just bury a lot of the trash.

When you 'bury' something, you dig a big hole, put something in the ground and cover it with dirt. You bury things that you don't want people to see or people that have died. Notice the following:

  1. This is where we buried our dog.
  2. My grandfather didn't believe in banks, so he kept his money buried behind his house.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

Vocabulary Quiz

burnable • felt guilty • bins
buried in the
  1. Is this package or should we recycle it?
  2. It would be a good idea to get some big to keep all these things in.
  3. When they dug up the soil to build the house, they found lots of interesting things ground.
  4. I that I didn't go to her birthday party, but I was just too sick and tired to go.

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