Am I GREEN? – What is “being green”?

I grew up in Germany, where “being green” wasn’t really an option. I remember helping my mom as a 6 year old, bundling up newspapers, carrying them to the cellar and storing them, until twice a year a truck came by and picked them all up. Back then there wasn’t really much paper trash, except the daily newspaper. Then we started collecting glass and driving it to recycling containers once a month or so.  Then came the “Green dot” or “Yellow sac”. We had to seperate plastic from envelopes, aluminum johgurt container lids from the plastic containers and we had to pull paper labels of tuna cans. Everything needed to be washed out, as we had to collect everything for 2 weeks until it was picked up. Because we lived in a small appartment, we had to make sure to clean every single item (including cans of cat food) to prevent nasty smells and infestation with flies, especially during summer (without Air conditioner). The yellow bags had to be kept inside until the day they were picked up on the curve. Each households then had a trash can and a stack of yellow bags. Then every household received a compost ‘trash’ can. The compost was picked up once or twice a month only – imagine the smell. BECAUSE trash service was expensive, everybody tried to have as little trash as possible. Compost pickup was free – so of course you make sure to compost as much as possible (and the county gets a good compost pile built up for their needs). When you go shopping to pay attention to the packaging the various products are packed in and start buying more and more products that use less packaging. When you buy bread at the bakery, they wrap it in a sheet of thin paper, not in 2 layers of plastic that makes it soggy anyway. (Do you know how much oil and water is needed to produce plastic bags? Oil we wouldn’t need to import if we’d all use reusable grocery bags – that are sturdier and better looking to begin with – you can even express opinions or your personality with these accessories). When you go shopping, you bring your ‘1 euro’ or plastic chip (the size of a quarter) and use it to ‘unlock’ your shopping cart; when you’re done, you bring back the shopping cart to the ‘station’ and get your chip (or euro) back (if you have been to Aldi, you saw the concept). It is a great way to prevent shopping carts from being abandoned in the parking lot and therefore eliminates the need for an employee that has to collect them and high insurance costs to cover damaged cars. When you buy beer, soda juice or sparkling water, you purchase it in cases (where you can mix varieties if you wish) and pay a deposit for each bottle and carrying case. You can then return it (at ANY) grocery or beverage store and get your deposit back. The bottles get washed and reused several times. If you have weeds in your garden, you pull them up by hand – it is good for the body and soul and doesn’t require the use of expensive chemicals that ruin our groundwater and end up in our drinking water, making us sick. I could go on and on – but I think you get the picture. If you live in Germany and don’t recycle, you pay a fine if they catch you. If you drive a vehicle that is not fuel efficient – you pay a lot more in taxes than others. If you don’t recycle – you’re frowned upon. So – it is a smart thing to do and you do your part as a responsible citizen.  I believe that is what qualifies for ‘being green” and I am very happy to see that more and more Americans realize, that we need to protect our resources, save money and live more responsibly by not leaving a huge footprint during our short time on this beautiful earth.

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3 Responses

  1. Nice Post! While recycling is a great way to go green, another very effective alternative is to Save Water. Today when fresh water levels in many parts of the world have dropped alarmingly, the need to spread awareness on water conservation has grown in importance. Water is life. So please save this precious resource. In fact BeWaterWise.com has a very good section on water saving tips which would help save gallons of water every day. Check out these simple tips at http://tr.im/q9OP . Hope this is useful!

    • Thank you for your comment! While this blog post may have not gone into water conservation, you can see by reading through most of my other posts, that promoting water conservation is my highest priority, as it is the most important resource for life!

      Best regards, Andrea Paulinelli

  2. hello is my first time to visiting here, wow is a greats site with a greats articles, i’m glad to be read in here. thanks for share

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