Anyone who's spent even a week in Japan has probably noticed the country's troubling love affair with plastic. Load up a tray with pastries at the bakery and you'll watch in mild horror as the cheerful bakery staff wraps up each pastry in its own individual plastic bag and then pops those six or seven bags into yet another plastic bag with a handle, followed by a stack of plastic-wrapped wet napkins.
Since China banned the import of plastic waste in 2017, Japan has seen an alarming build-up of plastic waste that has finally reached emergency levels. Japan's Environmental Ministry is now requesting local municipalities to collect and dispose of industrial plastic waste usually handled by specially designated recycling businesses because there's just too much for these companies to handle on their own.
Of course, collecting, incinerating and dumping this waste in landfills is a far cry from actually solving this serious environmental problem. If you're wondering what you can do to cut down on your plastic use in Japan, here are some useful phrases to try out the next time you're offered way too much plastic.