When I first moved to Germany I quickly realised one thing they do much better than my home country: they re-use. They give a second life to so many things, they share, recycle, re-purpose and give away even for free when they have used something up but understand someone else can still get some life out of it. This way of thinking can become a way of life in itself, and luckily for all of us and the environment it is becoming more and more popular worldwide. Me having always been interested in doing my bit for the environment, I joined in very quickly. I use environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, I try and recycle most of my waste, and lately I’m taking it a step further by trying to choose what I buy based on its packaging and whether I can recycle it or not. Unfortunately there is still so much work to do, because it’s very challenging and more often than not I will have to buy something that is wrapped in plastic because it’s the only option, but I will still keep trying my best. I do have a long way to go before I can take an action as significant as this group of people is doing. But just because I can only do a little doesn’t mean I shouldn’t still do it!
If you have watched How I met your mother, you’ll know about their Bermuda Triangle: the place outside their apartment building where they leave things they don’t want. Give it a few minutes, and it will be gone. In the last few years, my office has developed a Bermuda Triangle of it’s own. In one of the common spaces, there’s a table that doesn’t get used a lot but gets good visibility even from outside the room. By now everyone knows that if you find something there, it’s free for takes. This is a really great way of getting rid of things without the guilt of it going to waste. This way, someone else gets to take advantage and use it up! I myself have given away varied items like unused make-up to books or even food! Obviously nothing that would expire really quickly. I have also found many random things: various hair products including unopened hair dye, DVDs in different languages, a purse… And when it comes to bigger things, there’s the renowned Ebay Kleinanzeige that acts as a second hand shop. I’ve both bought and sold furniture, kitchen and household gadgets, but the range is incredibly vast covering anything from house and garden items, to car parts, to musical instruments, to vintage furniture, to hairdressing services from apprentices wanting to learn. It goes to show how far the culture of giving things a second life goes. The Germans are also famous for placing just about anything in a public space with a sign that says “take it for free”, the common spaces in an apartment building such as the yard where the rubbish bins are or the hallways are very often used for this purpose. I’ve found table lamps, plants, and even once a printer in decent shape.
I would really like for you to let me know if you know of anything like this where you live, where you work, at your regular supermarket, etc. Would you go as far as to start a similar movement?