SOMEWHERE in Madrid, a young American TikToker named Danielle Grobman is hoarding trash in her bedroom because she’s afraid of throwing it in the wrong bin.
At least, that’s what she told her TikTok followers in a video posted on January 18, in which she describes her frustration with the complexity of the Spanish capital’s recycling system.
In the video, which has since racked up more than 35,000 views, Grobman describes the differences between recycling in the US and in Spain.
In the US, she gripes, recycling is simple: plastic and glass in the blue recycling bins, and everything else in the black trash bins.
But in Spain things are a bit more complicated.
One must separate glass, plastic, and paper, and place each in the corresponding bin.
How do Spaniards have time for all this sorting? Grobman wonders.
“Y’all are on drugs,” she says in the video. “There’s no other word for it.”
“What are all of these different trash bins?” she continues. “I feel like there should have been a user’s manual when I first moved out here. Because it’s absolutely hysterical.”
She’s spent the last eight months in Madrid, a period during which she’s uploaded regular “culture shock” videos to her TikTok account, which has 10,400 followers and 344,000 likes.
Most are recorded as she’s walking through Madrid’s streets, and feature observations about the differences between Spanish culture and her own.
Many are positive — such as her most viewed video, in which she highlights Spaniards’ attention to dressing nicely — while others express her frustration with the subtleties of Spanish culture, such as the tendency to start things late and stay out until the early morning.
But her commentary does contain a touch of self awareness.
For example, in her recycling video, she wonders aloud whether her discomfort with the complexity of the Spanish recycling system is the result of internalized “American laziness .”
“Maybe I was just spoiled by the laziness that is within the US, but who’s actually taking the time to do all of this extra sorting?” she says.