Inbound Ambassador

A Year of Japan River + Beach CleanUps 2019

In 2019, we were able to complete more than 16 CleanUps along Hiroshima’s Riversides and Beaches and in 2020 we hope to organize even more events to get our local community doing what we can to help take plastic pollution out of our waterways. 

Some of the most common items picked up are plastic shopping bags, plastic containers, and plastic PET drink bottles. Most of the garbage found in the rivers and ocean is washed in from storms or the wind, but we also find a lot of litter as garbage cans are more difficult to find these days. 

In Hiroshima, another major source of pollution often found on beaches and riversides is the plastic tubing, pipes, discs, and styrofoam of the oyster and fishing industry.
According to JEAN (Japan Earth Action Network), each of the floating oyster platforms in the Seto-Inland sea is estimated to have 27,000 plastic tubes, discs and pieces on it. We have collected thousands of these at clean-up events in 2019.  Plastic pollution from Japan is often documented as far as Hawaii.

A 2019 report showed that after the USA, Japan has the highest usage rates of plastic per person. Unlike the US, however, there seems to be little discussion of plastic pollution issues or regulations to curb it in Japan in 2019 outside of the G20. These monthly cleanups in Hiroshima highlight that we desperately need government regulation to slow the amount of plastic that is given to consumers each day. There also needs to be a greater general understanding of the issues among Japanese residents in order to positively create consumer pressure for more sustainable packaging and products.

There are often solutions from Japan’s past. Going back to milk-bottle models of product container reuse alongside biodegradable packaging and higher-levels of composting would make a huge difference in decreasing the amount of plastic pollution that ends up in Japan’s waters.

The Clean-Ups have also highlighted that Hiroshima could benefit from adopting composting systems in waste management as Kamikatsu (Tokushima) and San Francisco have successfully done. At cleanups and at garbage pick-up spots, it’s common to see plastic bags filled with food waste destined for incinerators which could be put back into the soil via compost.

In this Recology article, we see the power of an efficient waste management system that utilizes composting. Adopting composting has shown waste reductions of at least 30% while adding further benefits of keeping recyclable materials cleaner which is more valuable in the recycling process.

Big thanks to all of those who volunteered in 2019 and we hope to have even more volunteers in 2020 as we aim to do at least 20 CleanUps. Join us every 3rd Sunday of the year at the Chuo-Koen riverside (map below) for just an hour of clean up from 9-10am.

To reach our 2020 target of 20 CleanUps, we will hold the following cleanup events – please join us and help to spread the word to anyone who might be interested!

Summary of Hiroshima Clean-Ups in 2019:

    • Jan 13th 2019 at Sun Beach Okimi on Etajima Island

    • February 3rd Sunday Hiroshima Chuo-koen (Central park) Riverside

    • March 17: Hiroshima Riverside (near Shin-Hakushima station)

    • April 12 on Miyajima + Easter Sunday at the Mitaki riverside

    • May 5/5 Children’s Day Camp & Ganne Beach CleanUp- Etajima + (3rd Sunday) Hiroshima Central Park Riverside

    • June: Hiroshima 3rd Sunday + Tokyo CleanUp

I also had the chance to collaborate with international residents in Tokyo to do a riverside cleanup along one of the main rivers in their community. It was a wonderful chance to collaborate and help support like-minded volunteers in Japan’s capital city. There are regularly held cleanups in Kanagawa along the main beaches. JEAN and the Japan Surfrider Foundation list BeachCleanUps and RiverCleanUps across Japan.

    • August 18th (3rd Sunday) Hiroshima Central Park Riverside

    • October 20th (3rd Sunday) Hiroshima Central Park Riverside

    • November 17th (3rd Sunday) Hiroshima Central Park Riverside

    • December 15th (3rd Sunday) Hiroshima Central Park Riverside

It’s rewarding to see all of the pictures and videos of our community activities and Clean-Up efforts all in one place above. In 2019, we managed more than 16 #cleanup activities along the rivers and oceans in Japan, so now we have a new challenge of more than 20 for 2020.

If you are interested in joining our efforts, or need some advice or support to start your own in your area of Japan or the world, please reach out via one of my social media feeds. If you are interested in joining us in Hiroshima, please make your way to the Chuo-Koen (Central Park) Riverside on the 3rd Sunday of any month from 9-10am.

A sleepy, early-morning video summary of cleanups successes and hurdles in 2019 and some targets for 2020.