never again will I pay for a box to ship things in

Posted on 12.02.2015

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I’m not sure if this is something I’ve been blind to in every other country forever, or if it’s just that we get rid of our trash differently here?

Because this is what happens every Tuesday around my part of Tokyo, and because these are in EVERY grocery store I’ve been in. Piles and piles of boxes that sit outside of a shop until ‘paper day’, and are then whisked off to who knows where. Paper trash day!

I seem to remember maybe one or two of the grocery stores in Germany having boxes for customers to use, to carry groceries home in. I also remember Costco having boxes available at the register, since nothing from Costco would ever fit in a normal plastic bag. But when we recycled our paper, it just went out to the curb, but I never saw boxes around my neighborhood. Maybe I wasn’t looking had enough, or maybe they were just all in bins?

I must be the last person on earth to figure this one out, and I feel like a total idiot. It only occurred to me after I’d been on a mad hunt to buy some boxes to ship things to friends in a few weeks ago.

IMG_0355I’d pretty much gone to every shop I could think of in my area which might sell boxes, because I was willing to pay for them. None of them had anything larger than a large envelope in the mail section. I was walking past a convenience store to my train when I noticed the huge pile of boxes sitting in the hallway: it was stocking time.

I asked in very rudimentary Japanese if I could take some, and they effectively said ‘of course, how many do you need?’, so I took like 5.

And then I started paying attention. On paper day, I could literally walk down my own street and pick up all of the boxes I needed. If not, I could just go to the grocery store and take a few of them. No one seems to care or mind, and I guess you’re doing them a favor by taking them away, so they can pile on more?

So from now on, all of my friends are going to be receiving boxes of goodies with labels on them for popular sports drinks, avocados, and maybe cat food. Awesome. I’ll also remember this for when I have to move in the future. Being green! Reuse, recycle, repurpose!