In my Sept. 17 column in the Japan Times, I explained why it’s both illegal and unkind to help yourself to something that’s been put out for 粗大ゴミ sodai gomi (over-size trash) collection. Bummer, right? I mean, Japanese throw out the nicest things!
But on the assumption that most readers don’t need help accumulating, this post focuses on how to unload your stuff without paying a fortune. I’d be glad if readers would share your own suggestions in the “comments” section below.
The most obvious way is dump your drek is to have your municipality haul it away. But as I explained in my column, this requires advance preparation and some phone work in Japanese. You also have to pay for it. There’s a reasonably good explanation of the process here, although unfortunately it’s Tokyo specific. (If someone’s got a better link, please let me know.) If you’ve only got a few items to toss, municipal collection may end up being the easiest of your not so easy-options. But if you’ve got a lot of stuff, buying all those 粗大ゴミ処理件 sodai gomi shoriken (oversized garbage payment coupons) really adds up.
You could also have a private trash collector take it all way. One way is to wave down a 廃品回収 haihin kaishū gyōsha, those guys who drive slowly through neighborhoods in little white trucks blaring recorded calls for unneeded items over loudspeakers. They say they’ll take things away for free, but in my experience they charge for certain items. Some of this is by regulation, so don’t take it personally.
You can also contact a company and arrange for a pickup. If you read Japanese, the website Gomihikaku introduces companies with price comparisons for all of Japan. I’ve had good luck with a company called Recycle Boy, which picks up in Tokyo and Yokohama. In theory they will pay you for things in good condition but the best offer I’ve gotten out of them is to haul my stuff away for free. (Either I’m a lousy negotiator or my stuff ain’t up to snuff.) Recycle Boy has English-speaking staff and a website in English. They operate half a dozen second-hand stores so there’s a good chance your stuff will end up being used again rather than filling up a landfill.
My last suggestion for now is to use English-language websites to find people who want your stuff. Craigslist offers free classifieds for selling and giveaways, with separate sites for Tokyo, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Osaka, Nagoya, Sendai, Sapporo and Okinawa. Freecycle also has a Japan-specific site in English. I’ve given away a lot of computer stuff this way, which is otherwise even harder to dispose of. In fact, disposing of computer parts (and batteries) deserves a whole ‘nuther post.