How many trashes do you have in your house?? No, I'm not talking about the kitchen trash can, the bathroom trash can, the office trash, etc. I am talking types of piles. I am guessing, at least for all my North American readers, you probably have one, a general, all-in-one trash pile. Maybe two or three if you are a kind enough citizen to recycle cans and newspapers.
But here in Germany, we have SIX different trash/recycling piles. Yes SIX in our tiny apartment. Why?? Because we have to. And I really hate being yelled at in German.
|A scene from Hoarders or our house the day before trash day. You decide. (source)|
Think I am being a little extreme? Think again. We have come to discover that you can easily get yelled at for lots of things here in Germany if you put your mind to it (go for it, get down and break a sweat...anyone?)!
It's not that the Germans are mean people, we just seem to screw up something or another. Yep, they gotta love us North Americans. You name it, we have probably gotten yelled at, or at least very stern German looks, for it. (And trust me, when you don't understand most of it, the yelling can be pretty intimidating!) Actually, getting yelled at seems to be the one thing we are actually good at in Germany.
And of course, by far the easiest way to get into trouble is to throw away the trash. You might think, 'What can be so hard about throwing away trash, it seems so simple? You. Couldn't. Be. More. Wrong. With 6 trashes, it can go terribly wrong.
|Most likely your punishment if you do the trash wrong. (source)|
And disclaimer note, I might be complaining a bit, but I do really love recycling and being umweltfreundlich. In the 5th grade, me and my besty even started a "Save the Earth Club". So yeah, I am a long time member of the tree hugger association.
Even my in-laws who were visiting last week were terrified to put something in the wrong trash. They catch on quickly.
First, there is the plastic recycling. This is an absolute must. No ifs, ands, or buts. Households, businesses, restaurants, everyone complies. You don't even want to know what happens if you don't.
|Mmmm, smells nice. (source)|
Yellow sacks, or Gelbe Sack, are supplied by the city. The Germans even joke that the second thing you learn in German is "Gelbe Sack"; obviously behind "Noch ein Bier, bitte". And the recycling is picked up regularly just like the normal trash. Which is pretty convenient, because in Houston you have to haul it to another location. BUT there is a catch. The plastics must be washed and completely clean of food particles. No dirty trash allowed in Germany!
Then there is the Glass recycling. For any bottle that does not have a Pfand, or deposit, you have to collect your glass, sort it into colors, then take it to the appropriate bins.
|I always think they look like something out of star wars. Who knows!? (source)|
Ok, I get it, recycling glass is also important. But there are strict rules on these bins. They read something like this:
"Clean glass, no top, no label (what I am supposed to do, boil the dang thing??). You may only deposit the glass on weekdays between 8am - 12pm and 1:30pm - 5pm. And on every other Saturday between 10am - 1pm."
So what, I drive to the bins, see that it is 12:02 on a Wednesday and turn around and go home?? I think not. The more ridiculous the hours are, the later I go and the louder I throw the bottles in. Yeah, that's right, I am a badass rebel. (please don't turn me in!)
|Our regular collection of glass. *Note, we do not have a drinking problem, this was over a long period of time. So please don't send me AA links. Thanks :)|
As for all the bottles that have a deposit on them, we keep those separate so we can return them....eventually. They tend to pile up. I swear we aren't messy or gross or anything.
I really don't mind this one though. You get money back at the grocery store, which is a total bonus in my eyes. Although you are just getting money back that you already paid, a concept still lost on me! Also, it is apparently appropriate behavior to dumpster dive for Pfand bottles that have gone astray. Lovely.
What are we up to, 3 now?
Then there is the paper trash. Eff you paper trash. There are so many rules to this one, and the owners of the farm are pretty anal about the freakin' paper trash. Hey, you know what, if I went through the trouble of separating the plastic and paper from a tiny little package, then I deserve to put it in the paper recycling any way I please. They are always warning us to 'tear the paper up into small bits'. Um no, I like the world, but my hate for paper cuts is stronger. :)
(and no joke, as I write this, the hubs is literally cussing out the paper as he is trying to stack it all. Good boy)
|What our paper trash starts off like, neatly behind the trash.|
|And what it ends up looking like at the end of the week.|
My goodness, there's more. The Bio trash. The bane of the hubs' existence. I don't think all Germans do this one, but seeing that we are now farm folk, we are required to have a bio trash.
|The small red trash is the Bio. Or as I like to refer to it, barf in a can!|
In North America, we just throw all of our vegetable peels, left overs, and food garbage into the garbage disposal and down it goes. No such thing as garbage disposals here, just a nice smelly little sack to store all the nasty bits. And boy does it ferment quickly! The hubs won't touch or go near it. We have it locked up tight, so it doesn't smell. But opening that lid makes me gag. I am gagging right now thinking about it. Blech!
I am not 100% sure why they do this on the farm here. It is not that they use it to fertilize the flower beds. That is what the horse manure is for. That, and for me accidentally stepping in it about once a week. Thanks guys!
|It smells great around here when it rains!|
And last but not least, the 'everything else' garbage. It consists mostly of paper towels, which cannot be put in the paper trash despite their name, and other bits of 'dirty' paper or plastic that cannot be recycled.
The farm hand goes through every thing you throw away to make sure that you didn't trash anything you weren't supposed to. Seriously, he opens the bags and inspects everyone's nasty, smelling trash bags. And I can't help but feel like it's judgment day when we throw out the trash.
But who am I to judge, maybe he is just looking for pfand bottles. And in that case, it is still pretty dang gross.