Ah, Germany and their garbage…or lack there of? We have five ways of sorting our trash here. It’s not too terribly hard, I just have to make a conscious effort when telling the kids which bin to throw things into!
The first is what to do with food scraps or bio, as they call it. Anything that can decompose goes into the brown bin. You have to get those somewhere around here–we don’t have a brown bin, so we created a compost pile in our backyard. Hoping to add some local dung to it, and we should have a nice healthy compost to use in our garden next year! This handy little bin was left behind by the previous tenant
Its convenient location is under the kitchen sink–which comes in handy when I have to clean this out:
A new hated kitchen task (as if I didn’t hate dishes and cleaning already…), is to clean out the food that washes off the dishes and has to go into the bio bin. NO garbage disposal in my sink folks–living simply over here!
The bin on the other side of the bio bin is the paper bin–which goes into the blue container outside. Paper, cardboard, but NO paper that has touched food (i.e. pizza boxes or mail with plastic). This only gets picked up once a month. We are running into the situation where ours is brimming full because we’ve ordered a lot that came in a box, or needed to buy a new appliance (like our fans, microwave, etc.). THANKFULLY our landlord works in the garbage and sewage arena, so he came by with a truck last week and alleviated some of that load!
The most commonly used bin in our house in the yellow bags. This is called the recycle bag. Anything that can be recycled goes into here–Styrofoam, plastics, wrappers, food wrappers, aluminum, etc. The kids have caught on quickly that this is where most of their stuff gets thrown:
So commonly used it gets our old trash can as a holder. But this doesn’t have an outdoor bin, you just put out all your yellow bags every other Tuesday. Where does it all collect until then (because I can guarantee you the foxes rip that thin plastic right open!)? In the garage or on the side of buildings–classy.
Next is the black bag/bin. You don’t want to see what’s inside, so here’s our inside container in our boiler room:
As someone described to me when I asked what went in here, she said, “If it has a bodily fluid–it goes in here. If it touched raw meat, it goes in here.” This can from IKEA is a life saver–I locks in the smell. The little swing top trash can that we had from the rental company leaked out the retched smell that comes out of this by the end of the two weeks–yes, this bag is collected every two weeks. Why not change it more often? Because these bags are specific, and like the yellow ones, you have to get at city hall (called a Rathaus–fitting, no?). Not worth the extra trip and costs. So one bag every two weeks for this houses “black bag” type garbage.
Oh, and there’s a plastic that doesn’t get put into the yellow! Don’t forget, if you buy a plastic item on the economy, like bottled water or a beer that’s in plastic, it’ll have a little arrow on the label that tells you that you can get cash back for returning your bottle! I know that in some locations, the trash guys will go through your yellow bags to look for thrown out bottles that get you .25 euro each! That adds up!
The last thing to remember is that you don’t throw out glass bottles. There are collection points in most communities….we have yet to find ours, so here’s our 8 week collection of glass that’s growing…
Oh, and NEVER EVER EVER recycle your glass during quiet hours (12p-3p). It’s a serious faux pas and you’ll get yelled at by the nearest resident (who probably is watching those bins because it bugs them enough!).
(what a collection site looks like in some towns…don’t know yet about ours!)
All things considered, it’s just an extra thought during the day (and on Monday nights, because each color is picked up on a different week!), and an extra step during chores. Not to terrible and the country is one of the cleanest around, so I guess it’s working in some capacity!
I still think that seeing everyone’s garbage bins out is a little ugly…but the pretty flowers everyone has seems to help ease the ugliness.