For all the praise I gave Germany about their recycling-friendly system, I have to say that I much prefer how trash/recycling works here in Wales. There’s a few reasons for that:
- Convenience: Almost everything is collected curbside on the same day. No more having to save up glass containers and haul them down the street to the big recycling containers. No more having to remember if it’s a paper recycling day or a “yellow bag” recycling day. All recyclables are picked up every week, and trash is picked up every other week. The hardest thing is just remembering if I need to wheel the big trash bin to the curb along with the rest of the containers.
- Clarity: We got a pamphlet that clearly explained what each recycling container was for and when it would be picked up. It included pictures, too! No more having to question if I was doing it right. Maybe this information was also available in Germany, but if so I never saw it.
- Cost: It’s a small thing, but we don’t have to pay for food waste bags here. We get them for free, and when we run out we just put a little tag on our curbside food waste container and we’re given a new batch. The only thing we have to buy are trash bags. (Also: No more having to run around the city to pick up yellow bags.)
The system is still fairly complicated. We have separate containers for food waste, paper, cardboard, glass, cans/plastics, batteries, and trash. But it works really well and it’s so straightforward that I don’t just give up and cheat by throwing things into the trash instead. Plus, I got a cute little food waste container that sits on the window ledge in my kitchen!
Bonus: This isn’t part of the formal trash & recycling system, but I can’t help but mention my garbage disposal. I have a garbage disposal again! Not too much garbage actually makes past the cute food waste container and into the disposal, but I love having one. There is nothing that makes me run away from cleaning the kitchen like having to pick little bits of slimy food out of the sink.
You know, I don’t think I ever thought this much about trash and recycling growing up. It was just something we did, and I never really thought about how or why we did it that way. It’s so easy to take this sort of thing for granted if you grew up with it, but I’m incredibly aware of it now. 🙂