At the same time, I would like to applaud that efforts that are taken these days by the Government ,media, people and various organizations to promote recycling especially in the Bay area where I live.
Here is a sample of what is done in Germany from that wonderful Chronicle piece today. I am very impressed !
Everybody sorts paper, glass, plastic and organic waste. We don't think about it; it's just what is done. We are not allowed to throw old batteries, waste oil, unused pharmaceuticals and old varnish in the normal trash cans, but we can dispose of these products at every drugstore or supermarket.
If we have bigger electronic stuff, like a broken hair dryer or an old computer, we have to deliver it to a special trash station that is easy to get to and has convenient hours of operation.
Beyond that, the consumer has to pay a deposit for most of the plastic bottles and all soda cans. It is between 20 cents and 35 cents per can or bottle. Vendors who sell beverages in bottles and cans have to take back the empty containers - even small booths at local fairs or train stations.
Supermarkets are obligated to take back all kinds of packaging. Every supermarket has garbage cans for different waste, so we don't even have to take home so much trash.
For example, if I buy a new coffeemaker, I unwrap it in the shop, leave all the cardboard and Styrofoam packing there and carry home only the new kitchen utensil. The idea is not only to recycle, but to avoid producing so much waste.