First, Poke A Hole With A Toothpick…

For some mysterious reason, milk cartons and styrofoam food trays are the equivalent of a wandering barge heaped with radioactive byproducts when it comes to curbside collection, and must be carted back to the supermarket for recycling.

But don’t think you can just toss them in the bin! Oh no. Milk cartons  must be torn along every seam until they are flat. And in order to make food trays acceptable for collection, it’s imperative that you follow the detailed directions on the sign posted over the bins:

1: First, poke them with a toothpick. Haha, you think I’m joking, right? The toothpick is actually a test. If it goes through the styrofoam easily, the tray is made of a recyclable kind of plastic. If not, you’ve got to hide it in the burnable trash and hope for the best.

2: Wash them thoroughly.

3: Hang them out to dry.

And woe to you if you think you’re going to get away with depositing any trays but the ones for meat, fish, vegetables and deli food!

Want to get rid of your battalion of tofu boxes? Forbidden!

Think your egg cartons would make nice pet bottles some day? You will be eaten by eels while you sleep.

Instant ramen bowls? Death by togarashi peppers.

Shimeji mushroom trays? Because these are singled out for special mention on the list of forbidden items, you will spend your next 300 lives as a tsetse fly.

Jonelle Patrick is the author of the Only In Tokyo Mystery Series, published by Penguin/Intermix.