Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cultural Differences: Earth Day Special

As you most likely already heard: Today is EARTH DAY!

I think we can all say "YAY" for our planet on Earth Day, since we are all pretty much skewed without it... So please! YAY! Thank you!

The planet not only has to be here for us to enjoy, but it also needs to be maintained in a way that allows future generations of flora and fauna to flourish... Sounds cheesy... I know.... I don't know what is up with me today... Call it cheesy Earth Day mood!

Well anyways, it's time for an apology to Mother Earth from this little human. I have been a bad human! I haven't watched my carbon footprint too closely lately and on top of it, I neglected recycling A LOT. Or like my parents plus brother put it several times during their stay at the house: "You completely forgot your upbringing!" I went down the slippery slope of convenience way too often lately! Bad human!

Where are the cultural differences come in, you ask?

  • Recycling: In Germany you have to separate recyclable from non-recyclable waste and collect it in different bins. Most people also collect paper and glass waste separately to take it to public recycling bins, this way they don't fill up their trash bins too fast, because you pay for every pick-up. Around here (I can only speak for GSP because I assume it's different from at least state to state), I can just throw everything in the two trash bins we have at the house and it's getting picked-up every week for a convenient flat rate per year. BUT! In Greenville County we actually have the option to collect recyclable waste separately, we just have been too lazy for it.... THIS IS GOING TO CHANGE! I PROMISE and you are my witnesses! (Turns out that I DO have more than three readers, so this is not just an empty statement! ;-)
  • Plastic Bags: Paper or plastic? Is plastic okay? No, no, no! A bad human indeed. In Germany, there are no free plastic bags at the grocery store. You bring your own bags or you pay and those bags ain't cheap. Around here it sometimes looks like you get a bag per item in the store, but I recently noticed that a lot of cashiers try to stuff the bags more and I also told them before to stuff the bags as much as possible. But even better would be, if I would just remember again to bring my own reusable bags and don't accept all that plastic and I used to be better with this too! AND I WILL BE BETTER ABOUT IT AGAIN!
  • CO2 Emissions: I could research the whole industrial CO2 emission shebang and present it to you, but there are things that you can influence so much faster and so much easier as an individual. Get rid of your gas guzzler and get a more fuel efficient car. I have an SUV, but I really thing that I get a decent gas mileage out of this puppy. But we also have TWO trucks in our household. One of those has got to go. Unfortunately, the market to sell big old trucks these days is not very good, but we certainly have it on our to-do list to replace one of the trucks with a nice fuel efficient car. In Germany, fuel efficiency is one of the biggest selling points for a car in the first place, because the gas prices are so outrageous.
Some changes for the better (especially when it comes to environmentally friendly changes) just seem to finally work with people, when you push the topic over the wallet like charging for plastic bags in stores and gas prices.

PS: My family arrived home late last night (their time)... From Madrid, they flew to Paris and from there to their final destination. It was a long trip, but they made it and didn't have to pay anything extra.

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