A riveting topic for many, I'm sure. However, the observations and conclusions made in this simple topic are interesting enough for me to share. This topic directly relates to how well we take care of our surrounding environment and what kind of Earth we are leaving for the future - which I think is relevant for everyone around the world.
Garbage, Recycling, Bio-Garbage
Germans are efficient and pro-active with their garbage, more than we are here in Canada. People categorize their garbage to up to six categories! Recycling (plastic and such), compost, paper, glass, metal, and just garbage (anything that doesn't fit into any of the categories). When I visited the south, the family I lived with told me that one could face a fine for up to 120 Euros (177 CAD) if they place garbage in the wrong category more than twice. This varies area to area. There is also a special recycling category for items such as mattresses, wood, and other odd items. Germans take their waste seriously and are reflective of where everything should go - making sure that what is left behind is not damaging to the surrounding environment.
When I stayed with my friends during the Autumn holidays, I kept asking them in which bin the garbage goes. Usually, the conversation would be composed of me asking where each piece of garbage went and why. Sometimes, my friends would say, "that one goes into the special garbage, let me take that outside". Such conversations showed to me that Germans are more knowledgable of what materials things are made from and how they should be taken care of.
Even though we, in Calgary, have recently introduced compost bins, not everyone is using them, and not everyone wants to use them. We do have - almost - consistent recycling in our schools and homes, but Germans are still ahead of that compared to us. In schools, they have three categories of garbage that students actually use willingly and properly! Recycling, paper, and garbage. Some areas of the school had compost too.
I've noted that Germans are a whole lot more aware of the waste they produce that is a consequence of consumption. This reflects directly into how much they consume - or how little - and, if they do consume, they maximize the potential of that consumed item in order to reduce potential waste. After speaking with a few Germans, many expressed that they enjoy having Sundays as "no-consuming" days, because everything is closed. They were concerned with how we are going to keep up with keeping our environment clean while overproducing items for consumptions. They would like as clean as possible environment, but predict that we won't be able to keep up with waste-management if we continue to consume they way we do as a society.
In conclusion, I observed Germans being pro-active with waste reduction and prevention. From my experience in Canada, it would seem that Germans are a bit more reflective and aware of their consumption and waste - and we can definitely learn from them.
To end this post, I would like to place a video of a song by a famous rapper in Germany. His name is Alligatoah, and he raps about certain social issues to bring attention to them through a popular medium. Now, I know not everyone understands German, therefore the English lyrics are here. The video is also a great watch for it shows the trail we leave as individuals - something to think about.
One thing I can say for sure, after Germany I am much more aware about what I consume and what waste comes from that consumption.