Friday, August 7, 2009

A strange situation

On Monday I wanted to take the garbage out. The bag was full and it seemed like a good thing to do. But, I couldn't. Not because of any physical inability or an exceptional clingy baby who wouldn't let me out of his sight (well, maybe that one...). No, it was because I lacked stickers.

Here in Switzerland, recycling is free. Some things you take back to the store; some things you take to recycling bins and some things you put out with the garbage. But, recycle all you want, it's free!

Not so with garbage. Each garbage bag must have the appropriate sticker on it. A standard kitchen sized garbage bag is 35 liters and costs CHF2.40. ($2.25) If you put a non-stickered bag in the bin or on the curb they either won't pick it up, or the garbage police will go through it to find out who the culprit is.

I bought stickers, so my garbage has been taken out. Jason and I were discussing this and he was shocked (shocked, I tell you, shocked!) that I totally approve of this system. He thought that since I was all libertarian like and anti recycling (really), I would want a system where I can throw away all the garbage I wanted to.

Well, I do have a system where I can throw away all the garbage I want to. I just have to pay for it. I think this is a tremendously fair system. Switzerland is a small country and they are concerned about waste. Rather than limiting the amount of garbage, or shaming people into compliance, they just charge for garbage disposal, by the bag.

Now, before you get your knickers twisted, you pay for garbage disposal as well. You either pay for it directly, or through your taxes. In Doylestown, the garbage men would collect an unlimited amount of garbage from us and they came twice a week. We threw away a lot more there then we do now. Why? Because whether I threw away one melon rind or an entire bedroom set, the cost was the same. (Not that I ever threw away a bedroom set, but I could have.)

Granted, as long as I put my melon rind or my bedroom set in the garbage can, it took the garbage men the same amount of time to take it away, but I could leave it by the curb, and make them pick up each piece and crunch it in their cool truck. Same cost.

I think it makes sense to charge the users. I also like toll roads. So there.


  1. California will soon be moving in this direction, too. I am PRO-recycling, so I LOVE this system!

  2. I, too, like toll roads. They just make sense that people who use the roads should pay for them.

  3. Do the tolls actually fund the whole toll road system? I'm not so sure.

    Suzanne, Suzanne, Suzanne. I know you are far more intelligent than I so let me understand: Recycling is free and you can do as much as you want for the same price---Zero. Garbage is ungodly expensive, and they punish you financially the more you throw out. Where is the dilema. When in Rome, do as the romans or should I say swiss.

    by the way. It isn't the same here in PA without you and the family.