1. Recycling. Oh yes, there is some recycling in our home town in FL, mostly in suburbia and not in condo neighborhoods. Here every household has to separate their trash into different categories. Wine bottles and other glass bottles for which you haven't paid a return-pledge (" Pfand", a couple of cents), need to be taken to glass recycling containers that are placed all over town, or even each little village. Once there, you must differentiate between white, green, and brown glass. Because of the accompanying noise, it's forbidden to dispose of them after 8 P.M. and on Sundays.
Bottles that you paid this pledge amount for go back to the store; this applies especially for crates of beer or soda bottles. You separate paper and cartons from your household trash into the blue bin (trash can). Some towns insist on a Bio-bin, the brown can, meaning you gather your organic materials in there: left over foods, vegetable or fruit peels, and yard clippings etc. Here it isn't obligatory, but it is where my aunt lives up north. No garbage disposals. I don’t know whether they exist at all or are forbidding because of recycling laws.
Talking to German friends they are quite appalled by the idea of a garbage disposal. “They only feed rats in the sewerage system” is the prevailing belief. How is that avoided in the States, I wonder. Coming form an organic farm, I never liked the idea of a garbage disposal either. Left-over were ALWAYs fed to some animals.
You buy yellow plastic bags for plastic, packaging, (no paper or cartons), metal, plastic bottles that contained shampoo, household cleaners, deodorants, milk cartons. The bag itemizes what goes in and what not. (Sorry that is not too good a shot! My daughter should have taken a pic of it). It also emphasizes that everything has to be clean. I.e. people rinse their empty yoghurt cartons or aluminum cans.
And then there is a blue can for “rest” trash. I haven’t quite figured out what goes in there, honestly. We’re probably messing up royally here. If the trash collectors find things in either of the bins that shouldn’t be there, they refuse to take it and leave the full can on the curb.
The photo on the left shows a bottle return machine and some crates stacked up next to it. You put your bottles in that round hole one after another and press the green button underneath when finished. You get a receipt and your money at the check-out. This was a new system for me too!