Thursday, February 18, 2010

Life in Austria. Part 3a. Living Green: Recycling

No, I'm not talking about this green:
Although, I was blown away with the lusciousness and intensity with which the color surrounds you in the spring and summer. I have truly never seen anything like it.

I'm talking environmentally friendly practices. (There went Mom.)

I'll admit, when we first got here, I was annoyed and feeling highly inconvenienced by some of this green initiative...mainly the mandatory recycling. It was new to me. It was easier just to throw all of my trash in one place and call it a day. But, out of fear of the Austrian government, we began to comply. And you know what? I'm totally lovin' it now.

Do you know how big your trash can needs to be when you recycle everything plastic, paper, metal, glass and organic? Like the size of a styrofoam cup from a gas station. EVERYTHING, and everything that takes up so much space, is mostly recyclable. Yes, it takes a bit more time, but when it's part of everyday life and it's mostly harder not to, you adjust...and you're glad you're not chunking all those Coke Zero (not anymore!) bottles in a landfill.

I'll admit it's way more trouble to recycle in most cities in the States. It's just not all set up with a nice system and labeled containers for you. You have to go way out of your way to do so in most places, except the token cardboard box at the office for paper. Austria, once again, is smaller, and has their system down pat. I think they're in the top ranks of the EU for recycling.

Here's what you see against the buildings on the streets (one thing is that it's not that pretty)
Yes, it's all color-coded for your recycling ease. I have translated for you morons.

We have some in the basement of our building. Art goes down into that cold dungeon to dump our loot. We've concocted our own little system in the kitchen. For awhile we just used thick, reusable grocery bags, but when Boris came into our life, we had to find something she couldn't jump onto and pull everything out of.
{4 containers from the kids' section of Ikea do the trick}

Ok, so most of the time it looks like this:
Left is paper, right is plastic. Plastic fills up the fastest every time, no doubt. Our metal and glass is in a bag under the sink cabinet and gets dumped once a month or so.

I will tell you's a good thing they recycle because the amount of JUNK advertisement pamphlets and crap is ASTOUNDING. At least five a day in our mailbox and then some thrown in front of your door. Rude. Annoying.

So, I'm realizing I have four or five other green practices to talk about and I've spent years on recycling, so I'll be back tomorrow to finish it up. I know half of you (or more) have skipped this bad, bad peeps. I'll come dump my organic pile on you...and that doesn't mean stuff from Whole Foods, k?


Cathleya said...

It's pretty easy to recycle in Berkeley (but this is hippietown!). We do paper in one bin, glass/cans/plastic in another, and food waste in another and then they do the sorting for us. I think we pay a lot of taxes for it though, but the ease of just being able to dump it all in just a few bins and them doing it for us is worth it :)

Juliette said...

Just today I was marveling at how our recycling bag was so full again already - all the different plastics that are commonly recycled here in Germany just amaze me!

Lisa said...

In Dallas, we get to throw all paper, plastic, glass, and metal all in one bin. They separate it out somewhere else. Any other way, and it would be all in the trash for me. But it is amazing how little trash we have...we need the recycling truck sooner than the trash truck...

Kimberly said...

We get one big recycling can and one small regular can and they sort the recycle for us. Nice!
"Good on ya" for going green!
(typical Aussie expression)

Unknown said...

I think recycling is a great alternative to save our planet or decrease the pollution. I think this problem still have a sollution, just depend of us. We need to think about our vehaviour and make a change and start to make the difference.

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