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swiss saturdays: you pay what you waste

May 1, 2010

While most of my blog concentrates on food I make and trips we take (no rhyme intended), I wanted to create a weekly post that gives better insight into our daily lives here in Switzerland.  Of course, if you have any questions, shoot them over and I’ll be happy to answer.  So, I introduce to you: Swiss Saturdays.  Why Saturday?  I like alliteration.  Hope you enjoy it!

Switzerland is infamously expensive.  From dining out to grocery bills – and everything in between – getting it here in Switzerland is going to cost you more.  Full stop.  My favorite example of this?  Trash bags.

If you go to a grocery store, you will see trash bags that look just like American trash bags: big, black plastic bags.  Nothing terribly out of the ordinary.  The difference is that here, these are merely glorified trash-can liners.  To have your trash collected in the twice-weekly pick-up, you need to buy special garbage bags.

These special garbage bags carry a green tax, meaning you pay for the amount of garbage you produce. This system is designed to discourage the production of excessive trash and encourage recycling, as mixing recyclable products with your household rubbish would cost you money. (Recycling is free.)

And what do these bags with green tax set you back?  Keep in mind: 1CHF=.95USD (more or less)

  • 17-liter bag: 9CHF/ 10 bags
  • 35-liter bag: 17CHF/ 10 bags (what the KC household uses)
  • 60-liter bag: 26CHF/ 10 bags
  • 110-liter bags: CHF 20 – / 5 bags (most comparable to an average American garbage bag)

World's most expensive trash bag?

While I was initially floored by the idea of having to pay that much money for trash bags, we came to realize that buying smarter meant less waste, and less waste meant smaller trash bags.  We live above two restaurants that, obviously, produce a lot more waste than we do, and knowing that I don’t pay taxes to pick up their trash just seems fair.  Don’t get me wrong, we still make our fair share of waste and then some.  We’re not completely reformed, but at least I consider us on the mend.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2010 10:54 am


    i also live in switzerland {from the u.s.} and cook at home most of the time due to restaurant prices. nice to find another ex-pat out there doing the same.

    this bit on trash made me smile–i know!


    • May 3, 2010 2:46 pm

      Hi, Julia! Thanks for stopping by. For as much as I moan about having such limited options for dining out, I have to admit that I think I’ve learned more about cooking and preparing dishes in Switzerland than I ever would’ve living in the U.S.. When we do decide to move back, I hope that conviction sticks with me. Looking forward to checking out your blog as well.

      • May 4, 2010 8:42 am

        I agree with you–living here has forced me in a way to slow down and learn to cook at home and both my husband and I love it. What area do you live in, if you don’t mind me asking? We are in Aargau.

        Have a good day!

      • May 4, 2010 2:51 pm

        Don’t mind at all. Most of our Swiss photos give us away as proud Luzern residents.


  1. G.a.r.b.a.g.e in Switzerland, Environmental Friendly – Pocket Unfriendly « indogil

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