I've had a bit of correspondence recently concerning freeganism in Japan, so......
I'm not exactly sure what freeganism is, except it's a new word for living sensibly, for stepping back a little from the process of consumption and waste, and for finding different ways of relating to other humans other than through the medium of money.
I'm not the smartest cookie in the cookie jar, but it's obvious to me that much of what ails the planet, and those of us living on it, can be traced back to overconsumerism, and overproduction of waste, both things I can do something about in my daily life.
Japan is a wonderful place to practise freeganism as there is rampant over-consumption, and waste on a massive scale.
There are two factors that contribute to Japan being ideal for freeganism, first, that by and large the Japanese do not like to buy second-hand things. Obviously, there are exceptions, and the situation is changing in the current "economic downturn", but thrift stores/charity shops are a rarity. The second factor is that to throw away anything in Japan costs a lot of money. This is a good thing, but has negative consequences;.. I remember cycling north out of Kyoto and being stunned by the amount of junk and trash tipped over the side of the roads into the stream banks.
So, let's take a look at my day yesterday.
About a week ago I began to get worried. I was running out of firewood. I have plenty of firewood for next winter, but it is still green and shouldn't be used yet. So we drove up the river a little ways to a side valley where they are doing some forestry. Forestry in Japan mostly means one thing, clearcut! followed by monoculture planting of tree farms. After they have taken out all the logs that are usable there are huge piles of waste,.. trimmings, small trees etc.
We found the guy who was in charge of the 3 man crew and asked if we could take some of the scrap. "Please do" was his reply, as all that we took would be that much less for him to deal with!
A win-win situation, so we loaded up the van with some older stuff that could be burned right away.
On the way back home we stopped in at the village across the river as Yoko said there was a house being demolished and we could probably get some scrap wood there. Just as we got there a huge truck was about to pull away loaded with timber from the house. "Do you live far?" asked the driver. "nope" was the reply, so he followed us over to our parking lot and dumped the load there. We had saved him a 20k journey. 2 hours later he returned with a second load.
The house was not old, maybe 30 years or so, so most of the timber was in perfect condition, mostly 4 by 4's and 4 by 6's, so as well as a winters worth of firewood I now have enough lumber to build a new woodhed and workshop.
In the evening we got a phone call from Mrs. S., a farmer in nearby Oda village. She calls a couple of times a year to see if we will take some chickens off her hands. She has a big chickenshack and just lets the chickens do their thing, so she ends up with more cocks than she needs. Males are a waste of food and space (as I'm sure many japanese housewives would agree :)) For some reason quite a lot of people who keep chickens here don't like to kill them. Possibly a buddhist thing, but more likely related to the spiritual pollution connected with blood and death.
When I picked up the 10 chickens, Mrs. S. was so grateful for the favor I was doing her that she gave me a half-sack of chicken feed, a half-sack of last years rice....(for the chickens I hasten to add... no Mikasa business practises here), 2 kilos of leeks, and a huge chinese cabbage.
So, this morning me and my cleaver got up early..... The young hens end up in the freezer, the older hens and the cocks I used to eat, but nowadays just use them to make gallons of tasty chickenstock.
So, I sit in my cozy, warm house, belly full of leek and potato soup, the room filling with the aroma of chicken stock reducing on the stove, and ponder my investment portfolio. No matter what the vagaries of interest rates and economic climates, I won't be going hungry or getting cold.