Your powers combined…I’m Captain Planet

Before I get started I’d like to direct your attention to my brothers website and blog which details his trip here to Basel for the weekend and the fun he had. I’d like to point out that no brown envelopes stuffed with cash were exchanged to get this good review.

So onto the main thrust of my post today – environmental issues. I’ve hugged a few trees in my life and alcohol wasn’t involved every time. When I was knee high to a grasshopper I got a book that detailed what we could do to save the planet. In a fit of earth-saving motivation I decided I’d write a letter to the town council asking, actually demanding, bottle recycling bins in the town’s public carpark. I can’t remember if I sent or even wrote the letter for that matter but the intent was serious. Even back then I was perfecting the art of proscrastination.

Do you remember Captain Planet? Always wanted to be a planeteer, or a fireman, or a pilot, or an astronaut…
In school I had another stab at halting global warming. This time, we did a “study” on the waste being generated by the tuck shop and cafeteria. We recommended all kinds of action be taken but I can’t remember how that one turned out either?

The years in college were not good from an environmental aspect. Nor was it good from a health or general hygiene aspect either (Ed and Larry will back that one up!). But that’s a story for another day. The student lifestyle lent itself more to take-away pizza, beer cans and lots of photocopying of things you’re never going to study anyway but it just makes you feel better to know you have it in your folder. Rainforests were decimated, landfills were stuffed and I probably did my fair share of cooking the planet during my four years in college. Its time something was done about it!

So now I’ve moved to Switzerland and here everything gets recycled. Well 50-60% of everything that is consumed here gets recycled. It’s quite an impressive figure and recycling system. There are days for recycling different things. There are the usual things like paper, cardboard and aluminium cans. But then there are days for metal things, for big things like furniture and more that I can’t think of right now. In work they have bins for plastic bottle (PET grade plastic) recycling and boxes for battery recycling/disposal. The printers are set to print on both sides of the paper instead of just one side. Lights in communal areas are on timers so that they’re not on constantly. Brilliant but simple stuff.

Our IKEA cardboard, carefully folded and tied up for collection by the recyclers. The blue bags in front are the “official bin bags”.
To encourage people to recycle they charge quite a lot for the official bin bags. They will not remove the rubbish unless it’s in the proper bag. A roll of ten bags (35L each) costs 19 CHF (12 euro, £8 Stg). That’s a lot and so you try and put as little as possible in them. Recycling is free.

So, I’m sleeping a little easier at night now. We’ve got energy saving light bulbs in the new apartment and there are plans for a little composter for the balcony! I’ll keep you posted on how that works out!


2 responses to “Your powers combined…I’m Captain Planet

  1. That’s brilliant…Dublin sucks in comparison 😦

  2. some great recycling and environmental ideas there. Canada is fairly good at recycling but a bit rubbish at other green issues.

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