TOYAKO, Japan – With climate change high on the agenda, the Japanese hosts of the G-8 summit have worked hard to make the event as green as possible. The temporary, low-emissions press center was built with recycled and reusable material and has many green features: solar panels to generate power, louvers to limit radiant heat and skylights to maximize natural light.
Even the air conditioning is environmentally-friendly: the press center is being cooled by 7,700 tons of snow collected from a nearby ski resort and held in an insulated storehouse in the building's basement. The runoff from the melting snow is even used to flush the toilets and journalists can walk over glass panels to see the snow below.
|AFP - Getty Images|
|A photographer takes pictures of snow used in a natural air-conditioning system, through transparent floor panels at the G8 Summit media center in Rusutsu, Japan on July 6.|
But as inhabitants of an island nation slightly smaller than California, but with more than three times as many people as the Golden State, few natural resources and little room to put waste, the Japanese have long been concerned about conservation and recycling.
|VIDEO: Bush attends his final G-8 summit|
Did housekeeping get the memo?
The representatives of the U.S. television networks covering President Bush at the summit found one wall of their workspace in a Japanese hotel lined with six recycling bins: one each for "combustibles," "incombustibles" and "plastics" and three different "recyclable waste" containers for "newspapers/magazines," "mixed paper" and "bottles/P.E.T. caps/cans."
Feeling virtuous, reporters, producers and technicians have stood over the bins, waste in hand, puzzling over the options. Does a plastic water bottle go in "plastics" or "bottles"? What's "combustible" and what's "incombustible"? Where does leftover food go? A rubber band? A candy wrapper?
So when a hotel cleaning woman came in to empty the bins, she was watched carefully. Interest turned to bemusement as she took the contents of the six bins and mixed them together in a single, large plastic garbage bag.
Shortly after she left, one person who had witnessed the exercise walked over and, with great deliberation, put an aluminum can in the bin marked "plastics."