Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Wombling in Danish

This is not a blog about wombling. Promise. It just so happens that I've only made two blog posts and they just happen to be about wombling.

I went to Copenhagen recently. Lovely place. Everything looks great there. Everything works better there. I said to my other half, "Every other country does everything better than the UK. Except we have the NHS."

Being tight and skint and too uncultured to even attempt the fancy restaurants of Copenhagen, we went straight to the supermarket to stock up.

Lots of bottles of Diet Coke and cans of beer were bought. When I looked at the receipt I saw all these references to 'pants', for all different amounts. "What are these random things they've been charging me for?" I thought.

When we got back to our AirBnB apartment (ace, but that's another blog post) I googled it. (Thank god I've got a decent phone now and access to wi-fi in the apartment).

Turns out 'pant' means 'deposit'. When you buy cans or plastic bottles in Denmark, you are charged a deposit and you have to take the empty cans and bottles back to the supermarket and put them in this fancy machine to get a credit receipt.

One of the great things about going to Copenhagen was the amount of information available about it online - about how things work, how the transport system works, how transport tickets work...There are apps for buying your travel tickets and apps for finding your way around...but nowhere did I see mentioned the Danish deposit system! I even have a couple of friends (yes, I do have a couple of them) who have been to Copenhagen and gave me some tips - but didn't mention that. Maybe because they did what you're supposed to do and went to restaurants every night instead of supermarkets every night like me.

What's this got to do with wombling, you ask?

Well, after I realised that, I started noticing possibly homeless, possibly poor, possibly just unfortunate people everywhere rifling through bins (especially in tourist attractions) for, you guessed it, bottles and cans that they could claim the deposits back off.

Everywhere I went I would notice the abandoned Tuborg cans in the road and consider picking them up. Like a true womble/meff. I couldn't bring myself to do it though. Embarassment.

I was reading a book at the time set in Copenhagen (it's rubbish, don't bother) where the main character moaned about her dad always picking up discarded cans and bottles in the street, even though he wasn't homeless or poor or unfortunate. I thought, "If I lived here, I would definitely do that."

We took all our cans and bottles back to the supermarket on the way home. We were there 3 days and amassed 44DKK (somewhere around £5 I think) worth of recycling. It helped pay for our expensive 3 zone Metro tickets to the airport.

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