Recycling is huge here and although its a big deal in the UK now, Germany has been into it for years.
When we left England just over 2 years ago we had 2 large council bins, one for normal refuse and one for the garden, there was also a tub to put in glass and tins for recycling.
Here we have 4 bins - one for paper, one for biodegradable, one for anything recyclable (that has a 'GrünePunkt' on it, be it tin can or plastic bottle whatever, if it has the two arrows symbol on it it goes in) and the black bin for everything that's left (which can be a surprisingly small amount and as that's the only one we pay for in our taxes we get to choose what size it should be - it can be amusing to see the size of bin people opt for when you have the prior information of the family size, you get an idea for how environmentall aware they are!)
We recycle glass of course but that goes in the big glass containers that seem to be on every road, next to equally large containers for cardboard and for old clothes & shoes. Actually that's the oddity for me, coming from England where the highstreet is full of charity and second hand shops, here there are almost no charity shops.
When people have a full scale house clearout they call the council to arrange pickup of the items (you have to tell them EXACTLY what is being left out so that they know if they need to charge you) and often on the day things are left out other people will take the stuff you've discarded - simple recycling.
Other green points here:
- Lots of people here use solar power panels on their rooves and in stationary traffic most people will turn off their engines.
- There's also a system for collecting rain water in an underground reservoir for use in toilet flushing and I guess also for garden watering.
- The Germans much as they love their cars, are very keen on public transport, but then they do actually have a system that works.
- Plastic bags in supermarkets have to be paid for, so stopping you stockpiling them at home.