Monday, August 11, 2008

Recycling, German Style!

We have been living in Germany just over a week.  It is a huge change from Indonesia, and even from the states. David is back at work, two of the four boys have already started school, and I am busy, seriously busy trying to learn how to get things done in Germany with out actually speaking German, gotta sign up for language lessons ASAP!

One of the strangest things we are learning about is how to take out the garbage.  (AHEM, my German friends, and you know who you are, a little warning would have been appreciated!)  In Indonesia we threw everything into the rubbish bin that was built into the compound wall and eventually the trash pickers would come take it all away and sort through it for anything they could use, sell, or recycle. No effort needed on my part. In the states we had a smallish green bin that went out to the curb once a week. I tossed in soda cans, plastic bottles, newspapers and the occasional glass jar. The garbage men would come take it away on the designated day, and I was happy I did my part with minimal effort.  The learning curve is a bit steeper here!

This is the garbage can in my kitchen. It is kinda cool that it is built in under the sink. Notice that there are 3 bins not just one. My only complaint is that it is tiny, it needs to be emptied more than once a day.

This is where the trash goes when I take it out. Notice that there are 3 different colored lids. Green is for paper, yellow is for plastic and metal, and the grey is for (almost) everything else. 

Glass is NOT part of the everything else. Glass gets its own bin where you sort it by color. The glass bin is located no where near my house or the rest of the garbage bins.

Batteries are also NOT part of everything else. Batteries get their very own bin. The bin is not located anywhere near my house, the glass bin, or the rest of the garbage bins.

Some places also have a bin with a brown top.  Apparently that is for organic waste that can be composted.  If there is one here I haven't found it yet.

We (and by WE I mean Americans since I am one in spite of my current address-- although this certainly could apply to others as well) we could probably learn a few things from the Germans.  This is serious recycling on a huge scale.  Recycling is not an optional, do it if it makes you feel better, kinda activity.  Recycling is mandatory, even in the airport there were multiple bins for different types of trash.  How big a difference could we make if the whole nation embraced recycling the way Germany has?

**As an added bonus the trash situation is also becoming a major part of my exercise program.  Our "house" is really a 3rd floor apartment.  There is NO ELEVATOR!!!!! We have FOUR KIDS!!!! That means a whole lotta groceries get hauled up three flights of stairs and a whole lotta trash, umm, make that recycling, gets hauled down three flights of stairs and off to the appropriate locations. Man are my legs gonna be toned!


Jae said...

I think that is beyond awesome, and totally agree! If the world or even just the US, required recycling like Germany does - what a better place it'd be!

I'm at the point of looking into a compost system as well - for our yard, our budget (cannot afford compost), and to reduce our carbon footprint ... the fact that San Antonio has come along as far as it has IS very encouraging. But it's not enough by far.

Sarcastic Mom said...

Dude, that is how it SHOULD be! Why can't our country (US) stop sucking so bad about stuff like this??? LAZY!

Terio said...

Silver Lining: Great Gams!!

Jenn said...

We recycle in Hawaii, probably not as much as we should. But they make us pay that .05cent deposit so we like to get it back!

David said...

5 cents... 1 Nickel???? That’s it? That’s what they charged for a deposit on a coca-cola bottle in the 70's. Here, when I take my bottles back to get my deposit I get back .25 euro. That is about 40 cents or 8 nickels. 1 nickel is nothing. Americas throw that away without thinking about it. But eight nickels... now we’re talking.

There is so much, as a society that we should/could be doing to help out in the area of sustainability. But until we get policies in place that are friendly to the consumer and encourages recycling we are just spinning our wheels. I mean why as a consumer should I have to pay for someone to come get my recycling???

...what about recycling used buildings? We should be building to last and when we no longer need some for its original design then we find some other way to use it. Not just let it sit then demolish it.

Jump... off my soap box- Bones

Jenn said...

We have an unusual use for our old buildings on the Military Installation I work on. They are overgrown and the windows are broken out and somewhat of a safety hazard should anyone go near them but they serve their new purpose. Our guys use them during training exercises, at any time you can drive across the base and see them in full desert gear holding "air guns" (there's nothing really there!) and patrolling the base. They surround buildings and enter them and it looks kind of silly but I guess it's good training! Oh, and by the way I gave you an award! It's on my page, go get it!