February 08, 2015

Recycling, Or How to Be a Good German in America

o, we're neither German (at least not in terms of nationality), nor tree-hugging hippies (no offense to my hippie friends).  But after years of ignoring that nagging feeling that maybe we ought to recycle, we finally bought a few extra bins this past July and turned our waste system into something which would make our German relatives beam proudly.  Or so we'd like to think.

However, there is certainly an art form to separating one's rubbish, and though one might argue that the affinity and ability for Germans to do it so efficiently must have a DNA-link, the scene I encountered this past week would make Danny's Oma gasp in dismay.

Cue the "Psycho" stabbing music.

Obviously, when it came to Danny's recycling genes, the American genes won out over the German ones.  Surely his German half must have cried out in protest at this haphazardly-gleeful cramming of cardboard and paper into this bin.  The very idea sounds like a schizophrenic cartoon.

Thankfully, my maternal great-grandparents both had German roots, so the 1/16th German in me came to the recycling bin's rescue.

 Ahhhhh, no more overflow.  Now this is a neatly-sorted bin.

Disaster averted, my 1/16th German self could proceed to the next challenge:  ordering just the right wool socks to wear with my sandals this summer.

Ok, just kidding.  I've got to draw the line somewhere!


Linking up with  Jess from Ice Cream & Permafrost for the #SundayTraveler!

If you're looking for delightfully amusing vignettes and escapades regarding German culture and lifestyles, you should check out Expat Eye on Germany, an Irish-woman's recounting of daily life while teaching in Berlin.  It's a tongue-in-cheek blog best read with a mas of beer in hand and the understanding that no topic is off-limits for "BerLinda."


  1. What do you do with the bins? Do you have special recycling centres, or are there big communal bins on the street? Nosy!

    1. We don't pay for trash pickup, so when we take our regular trash to the landfill, we bring our recycling at the same time. There are different big containers for paper, glass, plastic, metals, etc. If we lived in town or the city, recycling pick-up would be an option, but country living requires a bigger personal commitment when it comes to recycling.

  2. Oh yes, I got used to it, and when I went back I was like... where do I put everything?

  3. We recycle everything up here in Canada. It was quite the shock when I was living in Hungary that they threw out cans / bottles. I eventually learned it was really dependent on the building you were living in, but most don't really separate things. Every time I threw out a can, I was racked with guilt.

  4. I definitely think recycling is a good idea to be encouraged. I'm not sure I necessarily agree with places that enforce fines if you don't recycle (or put things in the wrong category), which apparently happens in some places! I've made it my personal goal to initiate recycling programs at my jobs, though, to show that it's easy to do and a good thing for the environment! :) And yeah, I feel guilty when I throw out recyclables!

  5. I know, right?! It's weird going places where there are no recycling options.

  6. Looks like my reply disappeared... we just take it to our landfill center where they have several recycling modules, so we just dump our bins into the respective containers there. In the city they have pick-up options for both trash and recycling, but out here in the sticks, we either have to pay big(ger) fees for pickup or take it ourselves. :)

  7. that is so odd! i grew up in richmond and i remember recycling EVERYTHING. and someone just picked it up once a week. they did the separating there. if i wanted to recycle cans, i just took them down the street. but ive been gone for about ten years so maybe things have changed!? gosh i sure hope not!

  8. I think there's still trash/recycling pick-up in Richmond. We live in western Goochland county, though, almost near Fluvanna. So it's a whole 'nother ball game out here. :)

  9. ahhhhh well that definitely makes sense! i grew up more in the city area! we had all sorts of recycling and it was fantastic. i currently live in germany and think they could do a much better job here. when i was living in scandinavia (well, only oslo did this- no other cities), we recycled organic matter. they used the particles to generate electricity for the light rail system. i thought it was fantastic. recycling in germany is the biggest hassle. everything goes somewhere different. my balcony is filled to the brim with bags full of glass and cans and other stuff because recycling is a burden. and my balcony is massive i could fit two king size beds out there hahah. miss the days in richmond when i could just throw it all in one place and it gets sorted later down the road. so lazy of me, i know! :)

    ps: love seeing other travel bloggers from RVA. <3

  10. Did you go to high school in Richmond? I'm glad you came across my blog so I could "discover" yours! :) I'm a huge Germanophile; my husband is half-German. Where in Germany are you living? We were just there in July and will be back again in May.

  11. yep i went to colonial heights but my family is now in monacan territory (my dad is a teacher there). how about you??? i guess CH technically isnt richmond- but ya know ;) haha. where in germany is your hubs from? i live in frankfurt. i lived here many years ago and ended up back here just recently after a 3.5 year stint in norway :)

  12. It definitely counts as Richmond. It encompasses the whole metro area! I used to work down in Chesterfield so am familiar with the county. I work all the way out in Charlottesville now, since my part of Goochland is handy to both Short Pump and C'ville. Anyhow, Danny is from Dinkelsbuehl, a small town on the Romantische Strasse near Rothenburg. We fly into Frankfurt all the time, but have never actually visited.

  13. Ohhh I hear you, the recycling here in my village in Croatia is NOT-EXISTENT. Took me an age to just throw the can in the regular bin without flinching. Oh, and please no jokes about socks and sandals... too many bad memories from school.

  14. That sounds frustrating to not even have the option!


Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear your comments, feedback, and suggestions.