“Purification From the Start”—Buddhist Recycling in Taiwan

On an August evening in the 1990s, Chengyen—a Buddhist nun who founded the Buddhist lay organization Tzuchi in 1966—was disturbed by the overwhelming amount of garbage in a night market on her way to give a speech. During this period, after the lift of martial law in Taiwan, Tzuchi was expanding rapidly and had become […]

Japan’s Diminishing Korean Minority

Editors’s note: This is the second piece of the series “In and Out of Japan.”  From the end of the war until 2007, Koreans represented Japan’s largest ethnic minority group. There are currently around half a million individuals in Japan who identify as Korean. This is only surpassed by the number of Chinese. The number […]

In and Out of Japan

2015 was the first time since 1920 that the population of Japan declined, and it is estimated that it will continue doing so. By 2100, 35% of the population will be over 65 years of age. International commentators, from journalists to researchers, recommend Japan increase immigration. And yet, Prime Minister Abe recently stated that Japan’s […]

Waste Pickers in a Chinese Megacity

The Invisible Waste Reduction Group Beijing, the capital city of China, is well known for its Forbidden City museum, the Great Wall and its cosmopolitan urban development. Beijing is much less known for its alarming level of waste production and the whereabouts of its waste. With a population of 20 million people, and an intense […]

Plastic Wastes Filled Sacred Mountain Paths of Southwest China

The Tibetan Village of Yubeng, nestled deep in the Eastern Himalayan mountains, accidentally gained global fame for its pristine snow mountain peaks and its location that is considered home for deities by 140 Yubeng villagers and numerous Tibetan culture enthusiasts domestic and abroad. A phenomenal tiny place being made on the global stage, the story […]

Working on Progress

Unauthorized Recyclers Keep Out Discussions on the fate of discarded electrical and electronic devices (DEEDs, or “e-waste”) and the configuration of the recycling sector in the Global South are riddled with the adjectives “formal” and “informal.” Scientists, engineers, corporate representatives, government officials, environmental activists and journalists make this distinction to categorize economic actors, often in ways […]

Garbage, Waste-Products, and Value in Kunming

Since 2009, news outlets across China have repeated the mantra that “two-thirds of China’s cities face besiegement by garbage”—constituting a national crisis. Included is Kunming, the burgeoning capital of Yunnan Province. Yet, in addition to its propensity to “besiege”, proliferating waste matter has also generated economic opportunities for approximately 24 thousand rural migrants who make their living […]