The United States of America is a great country, and yet there’s been a lot of talk lately about how it needs to change; particularly, how it needs to be less like the USA and more like Europe.
Everyone wants free healthcare (which, by the way, if you’ve ever seen a German’s monthly pay stub you’d realize just how un-free it really is). I’m not about to argue that the American health system needs some serious changes and revamping, but I’d like to veer away from the more common topics of how the US should be Europe-anized and show you in what ways America should really be more like Germany…
1. Bathroom stalls that are actually private.
Especially with this current issue of which toilets transgenders should use, this little change would be highly appropriate. The majority of German toilet stalls go almost all the way to the floor (remember climbing under the stall door to say hi to your mommy? Yeah… that ain’t gonna be a possibility here, generally speaking) and a lot of them go all the way up to the ceiling (no standing on the toilet to peek over either). There are no uncomfortable gaps and the locks tend to be fairly secure.
This would be awesome for anyone who values their privacy. Maybe the added privacy is part of the reason most public toilets in Germany cost money to use.
2. Sort out your trash.
I was making some dinner the other day and couldn’t believe how much garbage one simple meal for just two people had generated. Thankfully, I didn’t have to feel so bad about the waste because German households have not only one, big, black garbage bag, but rather three: a yellow one, a blue one, and a gray/black one (some areas have even more). It’s cake-walk once you get the hang of it.
Yellow is for ALL packaging–plastic bottles, foil, containers, cartons. Basically anything that isn’t compost or paper.
Blue is for paper. Newspapers, egg cartons, cardboard, empty toilet paper rolls (by the way, the TP we flush down the toilet every day is made from 100% recycled materials so you don’t have to feel bad for wiping your poo on something new!)
Black/gray is for everything else. Diapers, compost (unless you have a pig or a garden with a compost pile; if we had either of those, our gray sack would be essentially empty every day, until our baby comes soon).
* Glass goes to its own special little recycling container thingy, separated by the color of the glass. We gather ours up and take it to the container every couple months.
Recycling has never been easier! We all know the tendency Americans have to be lazy (guilty!), so a convenient and efficient recycling system like this in the USA would be amazing, don’t you think?
Be ready to pay a pretty ridiculous price for a pack of garbage sacks though; their high cost goes towards paying the removal fees.
3. Fewer drive-thrus.
Think of your average fast-food joint in the USA. Having a drive-thru is basically a requirement, right? Not in Germany! I’ve been around this country quite a bit and I can say that most of the fast-food restaurants don’t even have drive-thrus. Now, a drive-thru ATM/bank? Practically unheard of. A drive-thru pharmacy–you all say what now?!
“So, what you’re saying is if I go to Germany, I actually have to get out of my car and walk into the building?!”
Generally speaking, yes–yes you will. And it will most likely do you more good than harm.
(Okay, so technically the McDonald’s featured in the image above is in the Netherlands, but they’re basically the same in Germany).
4. Bikes aren’t only for fun–they’re a vehicle.
It’s pretty awesome to see an old granny riding her bike through town; that’s a common sighting around these parts. Where it’s feasible, Americans should really ride bikes more often. Not only is it good for the environment and your personal health, but it’ll also save you some money on gas.
I wonder if the fact that getting a driver’s license here costs about $2000 or more has something to do with all the bikes. Hmmm…
5. Sundays are a day of rest and not everything has to be available 24 hours a day.
You don’t have any milk to put in your bowl of cereal on Sunday morning? Skip on over to the grocery store and get some. Oh wait… you’re in Germany. That isn’t possible. All grocery stores are closed. Want to do a bit of Sunday shopping? That’s also a no-go (only a few times a year do they have shopping Sundays). Wanna mow your lawn? Nope. Basically an all-day curfew. I love it. I think it’s brilliant. On Sundays, everything slows down; the streets are emptier, the trains/buses run less, and there’s time for the family and some much-needed rest. (Many restaurants are still open though; I’m not in favor of that).
Stores close at 8:00 pm (many even earlier than that).
24-hour stores/restaurants are a rarity.
And you know what? With a little more preparation and planning, it totally works. Let’s make Sundays a day of rest again.
Keep life simple, my friends.
Coming soon: Germany Should Be More Like the USA