Many see the United States as being wasteful, compared to the “green” Germany. Germans take pride in recycling by separating their trash, bringing their own reusable shopping bags to grocery stores, and using color-coded trash cans to help the recycling system. Although recycling is not required by law, deposits are. Since 2002, buyers of soft drinks, milk, juice, or any other container are required by the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany to pay “Pfand” (deposit) before buying.
Scenario: You go into a grocery store and pick up a case of water. You go to the check out counter, and pay for the water, and additionally to that charge, you pay Pfand.
Some may think this is a hassle, but the buyer is able to return these bottles to any grocery store and get their money back. This not only helps Germany stay “green” but it also helps the homeless survive.
While being abroad in Germany this summer, I noticed how many homeless individuals go through trash bins outside of museums, airports, and other various public places. They did this in order to collect glass or plastic bottles that others threw away. And why not? By returning bottles that were found, the homeless can feed themselves.
Glass bottles for most beer and beer mixed drinks (usually up to 0.5 litre): € 0.08
Reusable glass and plastic bottles for most soft drinks (usually up to 2 litres): € 0.15
Reusable glass bottles of a special kind and design (usually flip-top bottles for beer): between € 0.15 and € 0.50
Returning a bottle for €0.50 (≈$0.70) can buy a homeless individual a small snack or drink. And by collecting more bottles, more food and can be bought.
Recycling helps save families money, keeps our environment green, saves energy, conserves natural recourses, and of course, feeds the homeless.