What are some of the unique ways that you have observed people in your host country/city engage in to (a) address environmental issues, and (b) promote civic responsibility?
Germany is very environmentally conscience. That does not mean they do everything they can to help the environment, but they do try a lot harder than America does. For one, Germans drive much smaller cars. SUVs are a rarity here. Fuel-efficient cars are very popular and many people drive them. Actually, Germans drive a lot less than Americans do. They prefer to take public transportation, to ride a bike, or to even walk. So Germans emit much less carbon into the air than Americans do. In the area of transportation, Germany is much more environmentally friendly than America is.
Germans are also very much into recycling. In public places, such as train stations, there are actually four different garbage cans instead of just one. There is one for packaging, one for paper, one for glass, and one for waste. Even though people do not always put the right garbage in the right trash can, Germany has at least tried. At my host-family's house too, we even have three different garbage cans. One is for decomposable items like food, one is for paper, and one is for recyclable items. Needless to say, it took me a while to figure them out and remember what goes in where. And they noticed if I placed something in the wrong one too, so it was not easy. Outside there are four garbage cans which are color-coded and which take the different types of garbage. In Germany one is required to use a trash bag, or one will be fined. All of the glass and plastic bottles, though, are saved and returned to a store to get money back. Bottles are worth like 25 cents, sometimes even more. So there is a real incentive for Germans to recycle. In the area of recycling, Germany is again much more environmentally friendly than America is.
Germany also has a Green Party actually represented in parliament. So environmental issues can be addressed directly in the German government. Germany is by far much more environmentally conscience than America is. Things may not be perfect, but at least Germany is attempting to improve the condition of the environment.
Civil responsibility, on the other hand, seems to be on about the same level as that in America. Germans take politics much more seriously than Americans do though. Not only are they aware about their own politics, but they are aware of America's politics as well. They seem just as concerned about our current election as Americans are. Germany also has a higher percentage rate of voter turn out than America does. In these respects, Germans perform their civil responsibilities better. In America, though, we have much more party participation and many more campaign volunteers.
Germans also perform their civil responsibility of keeping the streets clean well. On weekends, especially if there is a soccer game, people wander the streets drunk and make messes all over the place. If one is out at night, one sees it all. In the morning, however, everything is cleaned up. Not only do they remove litter and garbage, but they also remove fallen leaves. They like to keep the sidewalks clean for people. Germany does a very good job of cleaning up their streets and sidewalks.
So Germans strive to perform their civil responsibilities and their environmental responsibilities well. They far exceed American efforts in the area of being environmentally friendly, but Americans and Germans perform their civil liberties on about the same level. People from both countries realize they have a bigger part to play in the world, even if they do not always do so.