Location: Germany

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Recycle your soda cans people, for pete's sake

If there's one thing Germans (and I suspect most Europeans) do well, it's recycling. The reason I have to write about this is because it was the first thing that impressed me very much upon my arrival here in October. In Germany, you can recycle anything. Now, back in the states, most of us that try to recycle do a pretty good job of keeping our cans, bottles, newspapers and maybe even a soup can or two out of the garbage. When was the last time, however, that you recycled a milk carton or a pringles can? If you are the type that has, then you probably needn't read the rest of this post. If you haven't, well, in Germany you can--and they make it very easy to do so. In fact everything can be recycled. Everything, that is except organic waste. Any kind of material that can be recycled is accepted. You might be thinking, well, what if you don't want to participate in the recycling program? Too bad, it's required by law.

Now, in Georgia, it was typical for us to have 3 or more bags of garbage each week and, alarmingly, we seemed to have quite a bit less than many of the other folks on our street. Sure we had our cans and bottles in our recycle bin, but that was about it. In Germany, we typically have about half a bag of garbage a week. Since the contents of that half a bag is mostly organic waste, I do have to take it out once a week because after a while it becomes pretty ripe. So, if you do the math, which I did, the annual waste from the Dykhoff household has gone from roughly 156 bags to 26 bags. Yes, that's on average 130 bags of garbage less in a landfill.

In short, it was not so much the recycling itself that impressed me upon my arrival here, rather, it was the conservative attitude reflected by it. Sorry folks, but the people here make all of us look like very lazy, wasteful people. I know what you're thinking--the German govt. makes it very easy for people here. Yes, but, the fact still remains that many Americans don't recycle as much as they could. That being said, please people, recycle your soda cans, if nothing else.


Blogger Laura Guetter said...

All you have to do is start composting and you could be virtually waste free.

I think I'm going to take those plastic bottles out of the office waste basket now.

6:54 PM  

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