Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day 8 in Tokyo - Excursions (finally!)

Long day today! Started off by waking up at 5 am (didn't go to sleep after praying Fajr) for a shower and breakfast at 6 am. I also had the opportunity to do my laundry before anyone else got up. We met in the lobby at 7 am to head out for our first excursion in Tokyo: a recycling plant and the Tokyo garbage landfill. We had to move early to try to beat the morning traffic jam, and the trip to our first stop took about 3 hours.

Our first stop was at the Tokyo Eco Recycle Co. which is operated by Hitachi. The president there gave us a brief ~30 min lecture titled "Sustainable Society in the 21st Century". Basically what they do is take old electric appliances from the users (whom want to get rid of them), such as TVs, computers, refrigerators, air conditioners, and washing machines, and for a recycling fee, put them on the road to recycling and reuse. The process is that the machines are identified (usually by barcode) and then dismantled (manually), with special care to recover certain substances such as freon and other valuable and toxic or hazardous resources. The dismantled pieces are then separated manually to some extent and sent to a crusher to break it down to smaller pieces or even powder. The material is them further sorted automatically (e.g. magnetic sorting of metals) and also manually. Examples of materials extracted and later sent to other plants to make use of are iron, copper, aluminum, PVC, and others. Computer parts are reused by supplying to other companies. And since all this is done almost entirely manually, the environmental footprint is almost 100% zero emission performant. As a result, 13,000 tons of material are recycled every year, leading to a CO2 reduction of 12,000 tons/year as compared to the emissions that would be resulted if the materials were produced from raw materials.
Presentation by the president of the recycling plant

Plant from the outside and with all the recyclables coming in

Plenty of tubes being thrown away for sure!

The plant floor

Dismantling TVs

All the scrap metal after crushing

Handdisks punctured to make sure there is data privacy

After that we hopped on the bus again to head over to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Landfill site, which is basically the dump grounds where all the garbage from Tokyo goes. Doesn't sound too pleasant does it?! Actually, I was anticipating the worst when we were going to visit the refuse produced by one of the most populous cities in the world. I was in for quite a surprise. There was hardly any garbage in sight (except for the freshly brought in from the city) and it was surprisingly very clean. That is because all the waste (which is not separated garbage, which is why it's not recycled) is buried with soil - a method in landfilling called the 'sandwich method'. To further improve the sustainability of the landfill, vegetation and trees (and flowers even!) are grown on the soil covering the garbage. The electricity needs of the plant is also supplied internally by using garbage for bio-gas, wind energy, and photovoltaic panels.
Wind energy generator over planted landfill

Freshly covered landfill, waiting for the next layer of garbage

We had lunch on the bus on our way to Shinjuku, which was a big disappointment for me. The lunch boxes were either vegetarian or regular, which had some alcohol in it. I don't know why they had to do that... it really ticked me off. And to make things worse, the vegetarian lunch was nothing more but a couple rice cakes. They really should try harder to incorporate other people with different needs if they want to promote multiculturalism.

When we got to Shinjuku, a famous shopping district with a lot of souvenir shops and temples, I just had enough time to pray and walk around to look at all the shops and sights. It was really hard to find a place to pray since there were all temples all over the place and it was really crowded with tourists. I made a point of going as far away from the idols and pray with my back to them.

When we got back to the campus for dinner, we had an hour to relax and then I had to work on this art project we're all working on. It's a big wooden board on which we're supposed to make a mosaic of graffiti one day at a time, each day 6 people at a time. It was my turn this time... check it out... I painted the guy doing a handstand and incorporated the trees done the day before by a previous painter as his legs, capturing the essence of how we're connected to nature and flow through each other. I also made the transition between the "save me" tree and the mountains below, adding a rainbow in the process :)


Rania said...

Dude, you ok? You haven't shared any news in a while. Missing your posts.

elbadry_nadia said...

Nice to see you drawing again. I really like the rainbow. :)