I have been in Germany for just over a month now, specifically in the city of Heidelberg. Heidelberg is in the South West of Germany in the state called Baden-Württemburg. It is close to Frankfurt and Stuttgart, which are two major cities in Germany.
I have been here to complete a pre-semester language course in German and to find somewhere to live. This has been fun, as I have forgotten a lot of my German language skills, whilst I have been studying in Spain and I have made a few friends thanks to the course. Through being here in Germany I have noticed a few things about the way the country works in terms of the environment.
Germany is a country, which is very conscious of its environment. I have noticed many solar panels on people’s houses and the desire to utilize renewable energy is notable.
Furthermore, because I have been staying in a few Airbnb’s I have had to adhere to the German method of recycling. This was quite confusing and something which I am not completely accustomed to just yet. In Germany, it is vital to separate paper from plastic and food waste. There is not one recycling bag in which you can place both plastic and paper, both must be separately disposed of, as far as I know. This is even the case on the streets. Public bins have separate dividers for paper and plastic. Personally, I find it a bit overwhelming, because it is not something that I am used to, however, I will get used to it and I really do think it is a fantastic idea and great for our environment.
The main attraction, in my eyes, of Germany’s environmentally friendly policies is the implementation of the ‘pfand’ system. This is basically an additional charge that is added on to bottles. So, for example, you might buy a fizzy drink in a cafe and then when you return the bottle you will receive 25 cents back. This works mostly for bottles that you buy in supermarkets. People often use it for glass bottles of beer. In every supermarket, there is a ‘pfand’ machine. Through this machine, you can exchange bottles for cash. This encourages people to reuse and recycle.
There is also a hidden benefit to this scheme. It helps the homeless or less fortunate. People can collect bottles that others may have littered and take them to the supermarkets to make some cash. Some bottles now even suggest leaving a bottle somewhere on the ground for example, if it is not possible to take it with you, because it can help someone less fortunate. So, through this scheme, Germany is not only helping the environment but also its poorer population. Which I think is fantastic.
I am sure, since I have only been here for a month, that I will soon find out even more about the ways in which Germany helps the environment, but for now, those are the things that have really stood out to me and made me think what else can I do for our environment and perhaps what can you do?