A sign on the subway requesting that patrons reserve the seat for the four parties pictured.
I feel that when people think about the present day country of Germany, one of their thoughts includes how they are more environmentally responsible than the United States. After living here, I have witnessed that this is true, especially on the personal level. I read an article earlier that reminded me I had not composed this blog entry yet, so I apologize for the tardiness. It has been a rare occurrence to see someone on the street or metro-system carrying a plastic bag. If you do see a plastic bag, it is generally one that looks visibly worn out. Shoppers in supermarkets generally bring their personal canvas bags to the store, and take home their groceries in their reusable bags. I would love to see this in the United States, along with deposits on plastic bottles.
Probably 95% of bottles in Germany have a Pfand, or a deposit. Pfand ranges from 8 cents for a beer bottle and up to 25 cents for a 1,5L bottle. I feel this is a large enough incentive for people to return the bottles to machines in supermarkets in order to be reimbursed. This prevents bottles from being tossed in the garbage, on most accounts. If a bottle is put in a public trash bin, it doesn't even faze me to see someone take it out to cash in on it later.
Regarding civic responsibility, Germans have a strong interest in their political system (as well as ours). Voter turnout is strong, even without Rock the Vote and other programs that encourage citizens to vote. All the newspapers on the stands the other day had Obama's picture on it, representing the interest of the German people in the election.
The party system in Germany consists of two main parties and three smaller ones that still have an important role in the congress. German citizens have a strong attachment to their parties, and are more willingly in general to stand up for causes they care about and their party. Politics are a strong part of every adult's life and comes up often at the dinner table or in everyday conversations.
And to touch briefly on the previous blog topic, I have learned that German's have a great pride for their local community, city, and sports teams. They become fanatic on days of soccer games, and have rivalries with other cities even outside of sports; the people of Cologne pretty much despise the city of Düsseldorf in the north.
While traveling a few weeks ago (the reason I missed the blog post), I had a conversation on a train with a man from Ireland, who now lived in Germany, a female tourist from Korea, and Didem. One of the points of conversation was regarding the American culture, and how the young woman's perspective of America was predominantly formed from watching Sex and the City and Friends. Didem and I provided her with a more correct view of the American culture, our Irish friend assured us.