Recycling is boring. It turns people off. If the future of the planet depends on recycling, we're screwed. It might be good for the climate, but it's anticlimactic. You go to all the trouble of carefully sorting your rubbish into categories - a lid here, an eggshell there - and what do you get for your trouble and pain? Depressed men grab your bin, haul it to a lorry, and tip it in. They don't even look at your rubbish! And you spent all that time arranging the orange peels, coffee grounds and old tagliatelle to look like a Jeff Koons oil painting! It's a slap in the face.
No. Recycling needs glamour. It needs danger. You need some sort of immediate reward, a payoff, for bothering. What it needs is something like, oh I don't know, wild animals, say, tearing apart your rubbish, and eating it before your very eyes.
Well, Germany has been leading this exciting new field for quite a few years now. Here in Berlin, you leave out your old Christmas trees on specific days in January for collection, and the Berlin council workers bring the trees to the Zoo, and feed them to the elephants.
As Ragnar Kuehne of Zoo Berlin told Reuters last January,"Elephants around the country will enjoy a delicious lunch today consisting of about five Christmas trees each."
Apparently, pine resin is good for their digestion. The camels and deer also get to join in the January feast. It's been a huge success, with public and animals alike. Indeed, there are rumours that soon, for a little extra, they will bring a baby elephant to your house, where it will eat your Christmas tree, live, in front of your cheering children.
Once the private sector gets involved, there'll be no stopping it. Across Prenzlauer Berg, wild, proud mountain goats will leap from bin-top to bin-top, pausing only to eat your old cardboard and newspapers. Already, in certain high-class restaurants here in Mitte, hyenas are being trained to lick your plate clean after the meal.
This is the future of recycling.
I love Berlin.