But it's way worse in Japan, where they've come up with 40+ categories for you to sort your discarded things into, and where they search through your bags to check your work and track you down and chide you and humiliate you about your garbage misdeeds.
Mitsuharu Taniyama ... drives around his ward every morning and evening, looking for missorted trash. He leaves notices at collection sites: "Mr. So-and-so, your practice of sorting out garbage is wrong. Please correct it."...So we have it easy here in Madison. At least if they accept your garbage, they don't come back and tell you you did something wrong. And we really only have maybe about ten categories at the most around here. We do have to use clear bags for recyclables, but we get to put all the cans and bottles in one bag. I guess we have it easy. I'm sure there are some folks in town who think the Japanese approach is even better, but we're still far from ready to tolerate this sort of thing.
He stopped in front of one messy location where five bags were scattered about, and crows had picked out orange peels from one.
"This is a typical example of bad garbage," Mr. Taniyama said, with disgust. "The problem at this location is that there is no community leader. If there is no strong leader, there is chaos."...
On the corner of a street with large houses, where the new policy went into effect last October, Yumiko Miyano, 56, was waiting with some neighbors.
Ms. Miyano said she now had 90 percent compliance, adding that, to her surprise, those resisting tended to be "intellectuals," like a certain university professor or an official at Japan Airlines up the block....
Shizuka Gu, 53, said that early on, a community leader sent her a letter reprimanding her for not writing her identification number on the bag with a "thick felt-tip pen." She was chided for using a pen that was "too thin."
"It was a big shock to be told that I had done something wrong," Ms. Gu said. "So I couldn't bring myself to take out the trash here and asked my husband to take it to his office. We did that for one month."
At a 100-family apartment complex not too far away, Sumishi Kawai was keeping his eyes trained on the trash site before pickup. Missorting was easy to spot, given the required use of clear garbage bags with identification numbers.
I love the way the garbage-enforcer quoted in the article is shocked that it's the "intellectuals" who resist. Also this quote: "If there is no strong leader, there is chaos." It sounds like a very grand political struggle. Is it just about garbage?