‘Life is so different here now’ – Inside Japan’s ‘zero-waste’ village

“One, two, three….” Hatsue Katayama, a 70-year-old Japanese housewife, is kneeling at a low table in her home while counting aloud from a handwritten list.

She continues, without drawing breath, until she reaches 25: "That’s the number of rubbish categories we have at home.”

Mrs Katayama’s diligent rubbish disposal habits are reflected in the clusters of small bins throughout the family home, devoted to clear plastics, bottle tops, toothbrushes and socks.

More remarkable than her bin collection, however, is the fact that she is not alone: the practice is shared by almost all residents of the 1,500-strong community of Kamikatsu, a speck of a village located between folds of forested mountains…

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