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Kamikatsu, Japan: The Community of 1,700 Zero Waste Homes
How the Japanese Town of Kamikatsu Will Be Zero Waste by 2020
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Zero waste has been viewed as a radical but completely necessary lifestyle to fight off climate change. Kamikatsu is an inspiration and leader in the zero waste movement.

Right Now 80% of Kamikatsu’s Waste is Recycled, Composted or Reused
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Just a one hour flight away from Tokyo, Kamikatsu is a small community of 1,700 homes that aim to be zero waste by 2020. Already coined as “The Zero Waste Village”, the town is on the right track to living waste free. The town has set fairly realistic goals as far as implementation of their strict recycling goes — their program started 2003 and their endgame is 2020.

The key to making such huge progress in waste reduction is being extremely strict in requiring residents to separate waste into 34 different categories. While this sounds tedious and unrealistic, the vast majority of the community now actively participates in their zero waste initiative.

Kamikatsu’s Secret is Building an Environmentally Conscious Community

The keyword here is community. Once the town had a collective realization of just how much damage their waste does, everyone banded together. Despite taking over a decade for real change to happen, it’s a massive contrast to their previous waste management method: open incineration.

When environmental issues are presented at a global level, it’s often easy to ignore since it can be difficult to see the impact to our local communities. Kamikatsu has done an amazing job at breaking this down to something more relatable for its citizens. They identified the negative impact of incineration to their local environment and created a true zero waste community.

Zero Waste is Proven to be Profitable

It’s quite common for people to assume that recycling and upcycling can’t be profitable but that’s not the case. Waste reduction enhances productivity, quality and efficiency. For example, GM has recently issued a global waste reduction movement to push their own production towards operating on zero waste. The first big goal to achieve landfill-free status, which is outlined in their 4 year case study.

Luxury fashion is going through a green renaissance right now too. Gucci and other big luxury fashion brands have also seen an increase in revenue and profits by switching to greener materials and production methods. Unlike GE, this isn’t something they explicitly advertise since the luxury market just isn’t ready for the shift, but it’s amazing to see the corporate responsibility story as it unfolds.

Originally published at on December 21, 2015.