Tuesday, April 22, 2008

earth day week: garbage

Germany is doing a lot to try to recycle as much of their garbage as they can. And this is no voluntary recycling program: everyone is involved. Germany has laws that requires manufacturers, suppliers and retailers to take back and recycle most of their product packaging. The consumer's job (that's me!) is to clean and separate the different kinds of packaging. Yes, you heard me right: clean. And the separating is no easy task, either.

How to throw something away in Germany:

Clean the garbage: The recyclable garbage has to be rinsed out and free of any leftover food. So, yes, I have to clean my garbage.

Sort the garbage:

Here's all the outside garbage bins for our different garbage types (the bins are all color-coded). We have 8 bins in our apartment for our garbage separating our 6 types of garbage including plastic bottles we take back to the store for a deposit.

Put the right bin out on the right day:

This is our garbage calender. I think our landlord explained it to us three times when we first moved in...not because we didn't understand it but because he kept emphasizing to us how important it is to get the garbage out on the right day. 'Cause even though the garbage gets picked up most days of the week, if you miss a bin's day that type of garbage is really starts to pile up!

And don't make the garbage man mad: Or he won't take your garbage. Back when we first moved here and all of out stuff arrived from America, we had a lot of empty cardboard moving boxes. Our landlord assured us that if we put them out on the curb on Paper day, the garbage man would pick them up. But at the end of the day, the paper bin was empty but all the flat boxes were still laying there. Our landlord only huffed an said, "Sometimes you have to bribe them with a bottle of wine." So don't make the garbage man's job any more difficult than it already is...or you'll either be left with your garbage on the curb or out 20 Euros spent on a bottle of wine!

Yes, it can be more than a little confusing at first (whenever we have guests from America we have to give them what we call "The Garbage Tutorial") but you certainly get used to it and it starts to become second nature. When I visit my family in the States my mind starts needlessly sorting the piece of garbage in my hand as I walk to the one lonely kitchen garbage bin. And yes, it takes a little more work to throw something away. But at least when I throw it away I know it's not going "away"...it's getting recycled!


Kellybot said...

What a production! I must say I wish we had more recycling options available in the U.S. - even if it meant I had to clean my garbage.

Karin said...

That chart is wild! Where I live, we have paper, plastic, and glass pick-up, but they will not take cardboard. I wish more places in the U.S. had mandatory recycling. I hate it when I see recyclables in people's garbage!

ricracsally said...

Strangly enough, I actually miss this part of living in Germany. Do they still do the pre-paid stickers? THAT was a pain, mostly cause I always forgot to buy them.

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