There is a bit of debate about how environmentally friendly Japan is. Upon a precursory glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking this spick-and-span country is an exemplary sustainable society. Cars are fuel efficient, rubbish is painfully sorted, and public transportation is reliable and anything but looked down upon.

Nevertheless, the land of the rising sun is also guilty of excessive food waste and a plastic addiction. Furthermore, carbon-intense meat consumption is increasing as the country was forced to increase its reliance on fossil fuels following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. In short, there is definitely room for improvement.

Fortunately, government officials are starting to take note. Recently, the Japanese government enacted new rules curtailing the use of plastic bags by retailers, many of whom had previously adopted similar measures beforehand. The new law, aimed at reducing plastic waste, requires retailers to charge a small fee for handing out bags at the register. Although Japan still has a serious problem with plastic packaging, it's a step in the right direction.

But, it’s not without complications. As we’ve pointed out before, consumers and clerks are feeling a little awkward as they adjust to their new reality. Recently, artist Maru Tsukino (@Tsucky3153) penned a manga about the minor confusion the new rule has generated. Fortunately, she seems to provide some insight as well.

Reproduced with permission from Maru Tsukino (@Tsucky3153)

Indeed, if other customers are breathing down your neck as you check out or you are just self-conscious, you don't want to be that person when a hundred items and an "eco-bag." How long is this going to take…?

Readers understood Maru’s predicament:

  • “When I asked ‘Is it OK to put these in my bag’ I was already throwing them into my satchel.”
  • “Sorry, but I hate doing that. I always take my things to the side and pack my bag there.”

You can find more examples of skillfully drawn manga by Maru on her Twitter page and blog. Enjoy!

By - Luke Mahoney.