“Doug, tell us about the recycling situation over there in … uh, where do you live?”*
I live in Switzerland, a country that is sometimes confused with Sweden (which is well north of here) and even Swaziland (which is well south). Mail intended for me from senders in the U.S. has gone to both places, a story I’ll tell in another blog post.
But back to recycling.
As it turns out, the community recycling center (known here as the “Gemeindesammelstelle,” a good example of why German-speaking people will never win at Scrabble) is a busy place on Saturday morning.
I went today with a large carpet remnant that – how should I put it? – no longer fits our design needs. I loaded it into the back of our Volvo station wagon and drove over.
Surprisingly, I had to wait in a long line, with the car engine switched off, but was eventually allowed in. I parked and carried the remnant over to a scale and learned that leaving the remnant in the capable hands of the Gemeindesamm…I mean, community recycling center, would cost me eleven Swiss francs and some change.
Just to fill in the blanks about recycling, I take our glass and cans each week to a long row of containers next to the train station, and there I sort the glass – green, brown, clear, etc. Happily, this doesn’t cost me anything and has become a satisfying weekly ritual. What can’t be recycled goes into special bags we buy at the grocery store, and then a tag is affixed to the bag before it’s tossed into the waste container.
To sum up, then, recycling is a priority here. And the Swiss appear happy to do it. The results, after all, can be seen everywhere. It’s a clean, attractive country. The air, water, and land are testimonies to what can happen when a high value is placed on – well, clean air, water, and land.
I was asked recently by some youth at the church if it was true, as they have heard, that when Americans throw something away they simply roll down their car windows and toss it out.
To answer I used a response that I’ve had to cultivate because of similar questions about guns, politicians who are actually proud of never taking a science class, etc. I say, “Well, it’s complicated.”
*A question I have never been asked.