Let me tell you folks, living in Bavaria has been a real experience and one of the best experiences is how Germany recycles….everything! When we first arrived here we were told that we have one little garbage can and trash pickup is every 2 weeks. That was kind of a shocker as back home we put out 2 large trash cans every week. What to do? Well, let me tell you what we do! Germany has made recycling an art form and everyone eagerly pitches in to do their part. Our system includes cardboard boxes and compost bins and it keeps getting better from there. Now, I grant you this is not the most romantic of topics but I am so impressed with the environmental impact that recycling provides, I thought it was important to share with you.
First of all we have a large carton in the Utility Room. We toss in anything glass, paper, plastic, aluminum, metal and more. That includes plastic bottles as well as meat trays and yogurt containers. I am amazed how much we have to toss away!
When that carton gets full, and it’s amazing how fast it fills up, I take it down to the garage where we have several boxes set up. I separate everything into its own box. Glass in one box. Aluminum in another. Wax coated milk and juice boxes in another and so on.
Outdoors in the yard we have 2 huge Compost Bins. One is full and “resting,” while we are busy filling up the other. I place any and all vegetable matter in the bin. That includes egg shells, coffee grounds, vegetable and fruit peelings. Again, I am so surprised at how much vegetable matter we toss away! The wonderful benefit of these bins of course, is the excellent compost we get for the gardens!
Whatever does not go in either the recycle boxes or the compost bins gets thrown in the actual garbage can for pickup every 2 weeks. With all that is recycled, we really only need a small receptacle. Our neighbors Udo and Klaus have one can and we, the other. The big blue lidded guy is where we recycle all things paper. That includes junk mail, catalogs, newspaper, cardboard. The paper box gets picked up once a month and it is usually filled to the brim.That’s a ton of paper that would otherwise have gone to a landfill!
About a minute and a half walk from my door is a series of big metal containers for use by all the community residents. There are containers for clear, brown and green glass. There’s an aluminum container as well as a clothing and shoe recycle bin. Three huge “Altpapier” containers are for all the paper that won’t fit in your home box and trust me, they are filled to the brim every week. A truck comes weekly and empties the containers. I walk down with all our glass bottles and “tin” cans about once a week.
The final step in the recycling process is driving to what is commonly referred to a “The Dump.” But it is no dump. Uh Uh. No way. This is a mega recycling center. Plastics food containers, bottles, Styrofoam, light bulbs, batteries, trees, yard debris, tires, bicycles, kitchen appliances and hot water tanks. Everything under the sun is brought to the dump! I make a “dump” run on average of every 3 weeks. Now this is no ordinary recycle facility. This place is immaculate. No odors. Nothing spilled on the ground. The employees who are both fun and kind, direct the confused ( that would be me) to the appropriate bins and using “grabbers” they separate anything that accidentally got placed in the wrong bin. They constantly sweep the concrete and ( this is great!), they have flowers and fruit trees planted in front of the facility. So, from the street it looks like any other business.
Just by being vigilant and taking a few extra minutes every week to sort disposable trash, the German people have greatly reduced waste and what goes into a landfill. I am happy to do my part!