Comparative Culture — German Illogic on the 7.5 Kilometer Eibsee Rundweg — No Outhouses but Plenty of Trash Cans

© 2015 Peter Free


05 September 2015



One would think that an admirable bias against littering would hold firm


I’ve written before about contradictory twists of German logic that surprise visiting Americans. Say an emphasis on environmental protection and energy savings — yet combined with (a) washers and dryers that do neither (seemingly by design) and (b) unlimited speed Autobahns that metaphorically suck up expensive gasoline at high rates.


I stumbled across another such example of logical inconsistency yesterday at one of Germany’s most beautiful lakes. Plenty of trash cans, but a complete disregard for outhouses. With the result that used toilet paper and similar unsightly messes were scattered over wide expanses of ground, wherever the terrain flattened out enough for folks to relieve themselves.



Anti-littering illogic


The Eibsee is a lake that sits at the foot of Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze. It is a popular destination because the lake is beautiful and a cog railway and a gondola both ascend the mountain from there.


Around the lake is a superbly maintained 7.5 kilometer (4.7 mile) dirt and gravel road (Rundweg) intended for walkers and bicyclists. Every few meters of it offers a trash receptacle, but no outhouses anywhere. Consequently, every time the terrain turns from slippery and steep — one sees population pressure’s “squat break” paths wandering off the main route.


These surprisingly expansive areas are paved with used toilet and other soiled papers, apparently left by folks in need of natural breaks.  By American standards, which are laughably relaxed compared to the Germans’ absolute insistence on clean restrooms, these areas are nose-wrinkling and careful-foot-placement disgusting.


There is, in sum, the striking contrast between the pristine Rundweg itself, with its innumerable trash cans, and the “ugh” areas just off the path.



The moral? — Some cultural things are destined (I guess) not to be understood


One would think that a bias against litter would transfer into building a few easily serviced outhouses — or even strategically placed porta-potties — along a path that is already way wide enough for large service vehicles to service its many trash cans.


Culture is curious.