Living on my own means I can now take control over all the recycling procedures in this household. What. A. Joy!!!
I don’t know how I ever got to be like this, but from a very early age I took recycling very seriously. I remember discussing these issues in primary school and later high school, and looking back, I know my teachers were pretty “green”, as we like to call them here (people who take great care of the environment). I never remember them waving their fingers at us though or moralising about recycling issues. But I think it has impacted me – seeing all the waste we had here, and also experiencing places with people who barely had something. Seeing my world collide with those worlds I saw when we went abroad to so-called “Third World” countries made me want to do something about the waste we had in our own lives and try to recycle as much as possible. I think that also the stories I heard from my parents back in their days, growing up with very little or living in rather poor countries made me sensitive to the whole topic.
Growing up I then encountered many situations that just plainly shocked me. Once I was living with another family as an exchange student. We’d get food ordered for every single day of the week. Spare food was put into the fridge, which was good. Until I realized that every Friday was clean-out-the-refrigerator-day where just all the spare food, no matter if wrapped in plastic, paper, glass or tins, and no matter if it was still good, went into a big trash bag which wasn’t even filled to the brim in order to be taken out (waste of plastic bag – hello!). I asked them about it and they were taken aback, mumbling that the people would recycle everything from the trash bags at the trash center… really?!
Another time in my life I lived abroad for a while in a not-so-rich European country. The locals would give back work sheet to the teachers and copy the exercises into their notebooks, because in most schools students couldn’t afford to keep the sheets and it was common for them to return them. In the office where I worked we were several people from all sorts of nationalities. Our trainers had set up cardboard containers for us to put unused paper for recycling. Very glad about it I happily used it whenever I printed out something wrong. It was with shock I then often witnessed people from other “richer” countries print forms in very inefficient ways using only 1/4 of the whole sheet and copy these several times, and when doing wrong copies or prints, tossing them into the regular bin which was right next to the paper recycle bin… The lack of awareness really, really shocked me!
When I moved in together with The Man we had discussed this issue thoroughly. He wasn’t as much of a recycling freak, neither was his whole family… I’d been over to dinners when they would throw away spare salad and I’d jump up to finish it – I couldn’t believe it since we’d never do such things in my own family. We’d always eat up everything that was on the table and spare salad always found room in a tummy. They were not that bad, but The Man surely didn’t care much about recycling. He would throw away perfect envelopes and brochures into the regular bin instead of the recycling bin… He would put cardboard in the paper bin and not remove plastics from the cardboard containers for the cardboard bin… He would throw away perfect plastic and paper shopping bags instead of putting them aside for another use and stop buying new ones all the time. Hell, even Brocki’s are happy to have bags to pack the goods sold for the people!
So when I’d see these things, it was very hard for me to ignore them… We agreed on the fact that he’d leave me do my recycling and that he’d do his – if he ever thought about it, which – to be honest – happened very seldom… Until the very end of our relationship he’d sometimes offer me plastic bags with a grin for me to give away to the Brockis (thinking about it – I should’ve brought him over to the Brocki, but that’s another story…^^). I never felt supported or taken seriously and seeing those and other good things in perfect condition been thrown away always broke my heart…
Green food waste? That wasn’t a topic for many years since our flats had no green waste container. Way too late the landlord finally got one for our neighbourhood which I was more than happy to start using. But it somehow wears off when you realize you’re the only one actually using it at home and you see freshly cut fruit and vegetable pieces in the regular bin which is right next to the compost bin… I now wonder if he did that on purpose…
Anyhow – now I am the head master of my flat and can decide how to handle things, and let me tell you: I – pardon me – feckin’ love it!!! I can now fully recycle everything I feel can be recycled and am in full control of it all and boy does that feel good! I’ve even started recycling tea lights since I’ve learned that you can also recycle them! I am very proud of my little recycling container hidden (…yes!!!) in a cupboard in the kitchen – Marie Kondo says hello here!!! I collect the glass, plastic containers of toiletries (which is a new thing here to be recycled – unlike, say, Ireland!) and tins in there and there’s an additional plastic container where I collect the tealights, aluminium foils and chocolate wraps. It sparks joy and makes me feel good about it.
I don’t want to moralize here or say what’s right or wrong but merely explain how happy this all makes me feel because of my experience that with just a tiny little effort I can contribute so much to our environment. Being able to now fully do so in my own liking just sparks utter joy living here in this new home of mine ❤
How about you – what are your thoughts on recycling? Do you recycle a lot or not at all? I’d love to hear about it, specially if you’re from different countries 🙂 !!!