There is one of those fabulous stories that shows just how wacky the Japanese are in the NY Times today. Since Japan has very little land available for garbage dumping, many towns and villages sort and recycle their garbage in extreme ways. For instance, one town has 44 different garbage categories from "tofu containers to egg cartons, plastic bottle caps to disposable chopsticks, fluorescent tubes to futons." Because "sorting out the trash properly is regarded as proof that one is a grown-up, responsible citizen," unsorted trash can be a source of shame and worse, since many towns have a fleet of vigilante trash hawks, aka "garbage guardians," who will "comb offending bags for, say, a telltale gas bill, then nudge the owner onto the right path." They'll even drag the poorly sorted garbage back to apartments and convince landlords to evict the bad citizens. Gothamist would be tempted to do that, but we rather be volunteer traffic cops, since there are few things we like better than yelling at people to use their turn signals, not make illegal U-turns, and more!
In NYC, we sort a little bit, but we mostly dump our garbage on the sidewalk, even toilets. Here's the Department of Sanitation's guide to how to dispose of certain objects.