12.05.2007

Going Green

Today, Max left for work for the first time since we arrived in Germany, and I am left alone.

I am not worried about making my way around the town. Take away the communication differences, and Germany offers all the conveniences of the United States-- if not more. From my apartment I can walk to two different grocery stores and the bank. Moreover, the tram stop sits across the street and can take me wherever I want to go. From a daily living standpoint, I have it all.

Still, I do worry how I will manage without a job to fill my day once I am completely settled in. Although short term, it’s not a problem. Despite the similarities, I have plenty to figure out. The simplest of tasks take me longer. For example, I had to pull out my English-to-German dictionary just to learn how to use the washing machine. In addition, ovens don't count degrees in Fahrenheit, so I had to google conversion rates on the computer just to make sure I didn’t burn dinner.

Germans must be the greenest people on the planet, taking their trash very seriously. There are different recycling bins for clear glass, green glass, and brown glass. I wonder where to put all my empty wine bottles? There are also bins for compost, cardboard, and plastics. Needless to say, it will take me some time to figure out recycling etiquette.

Maybe it because of their environmentally conscious ways that German grocers gerenally do not offer free shopping bags. You have the option to buy a large, insulated, plastic bag to keep items cool or carry some of your own. I chose the latter, buying a cute little bag on wheels to negotiate this difference.

Despite the minor inconveniences, I already admire these practices and can see why most cultures consider the United States among the most wasteful of countries. After only a half a week in Germany, I am integrating these differences into my own lifestyle. Of course, I can’t feel superior. My overall “carbon footprint” or the measure of human activities on the environment, isn’t shrinking one iota because of more my frequent plane travel. In fact, I just purchased my first of many tickets home to he U.S.A. in March. It’s not that I don’t want to be green, I just don’t want to be too blue.

13 comments:

Bluepaintred said...

do a lot of people drive cars or are they green about that as well?

Diane Mandy said...

Hi, Blue. Oh they have plenty of cars, but they are much more fuel efficient from what I have observed. Max and I have been looking at cars, trying to figure out which one to buy.

chico said...

F = 1.8C + 32... everyone knows that

running42k said...

Plant a tree Diane. It will help.

Glad to see you are fitting in well.

No mention of German beer yet?

Diane Mandy said...

Chico - leave it to my kid brother to be a smart ass. I can tell you miss me already.

42K- with my carbon footprint I'll need to plant a forest.

egan said...

I heard about this grocery bag thing in the news. I think it was Denmark. I really like the idea of not giving out bags, make the consumers bring them.

Maybe you can consider blogging to be your job? Perhaps podcasting can be your supporting job? Just a thought.

evercurious said...

I'm glad to see things are going well so far. I like Egan's idea.

mrsmogul said...

thats good that at least you bought your plane tickets to the USA already. That was a mistake my first six months in London, I felt isolated and had nothing to look forward to. It's a plus you can walk to the stores! I despise car culture!

kenju said...

I'm very impressed with the German's recycling efforts, and I wish all of us in the US did the same.

I also am getting to the point where being able to walk to the store would be a plus. I love 3.5 miles from the nearest store - and it might as well be 50.

Diane Mandy said...

Egan- blog fulltime? I could try, but I don't seem to have the wealth of ideas needed to write every day. Maybe over time, it will get easier.

evercurios- Thanks for your well wishes. It is going well so far. With time I think it will get better.

Mrs. mogul- I went to a seminar for future ex-pats where they recommened booking the trip home to have to look forward to. I;m not bright enough to have thought of it on my own.

K- I hear you. At my our permanent residence the nearest town is only a couple miles away, but during the German wonters it might as well be 50. I'll stay put, thank you very much.

Fabi Yvette said...

So interesting!! I'm really going to enjoy reading about your experiences as an ex-pat. Thanks for sharing!

egan said...

Hey, nobody says you have to write each day. Write when inspiration strikes and I'm sure it will continue to be engaging.

Dan-E said...

it was like that in prague, when i lived there a couple of years ago. the grocery stores i went to gave you just a couple and if you wanted more, you had to pay for them. it would have been fine if they weren't so flimsy.