Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Trash

Yes, this post is about trash.

My trash. Literally.

When we moved to Germany, we were able to bring our trash from our house to the post and dump it there. We didn't need to use the German system, though it was available to us. That ended last June, and we've been disposing of our trash on the German economy since then.

It's crazy. I'm trying not to allow the trash-sorting to take over my life...but it's hard!

Now to be completely fair, where we live in Germany is more strict on trash disposal than lots of other German cities. So we are in the minority when we consider what we have to do to throw our trash away. But so it is. And now, to give you an idea:  
This is the size of our trash can. It's picked up once every OTHER week.

Bins ready for pick up

Please notice three things about the above pictures before I go on. 1: the trash can is slightly smaller than my almost 5 yr old. It holds 120 liters of trash. (That equals almost 32 gallons). 2, it's picked up ONE time every OTHER week. (2 times a month). 3, all the bins are lined up uniformly and nicely on trash day. It's a thing of beauty, don't you think?
The sorting (which I have to store in my garage)

Magnetic cans (all canned goods)
Metals (non-magnetic) such as Pringles cans, granola bar wrappers, coke cans, chip bags, etc.)
I didn't take pictures of all the other sorting, but it includes separate containers for plastic wrappers, plastic bottles (less than 5 liters and one for over 5 liters); drink cartons (large ones like oj cartons, boxed milk, etc); newspapers, mail, unwanted paper items, pizza boxes; and then there are the miscellaneous items (which I'll mention later).

Everything piled up in my car
So I pile everything up in my car (after it's multiplied so much that it threatens to overflow my garage) and drive down to the Wertstoffhof. (Try saying that five times fast.) This is our local "recycling center." A dumpster for almost everything! 

The closest dumpster is for paper (not to include cardboard).


These are for plastic bags (not plastic wrappers).

Drink cartons (oj cartons, milk, juice, etc)

Not just glass--spaces for each color!

Non-magnetic metals (complete with magnet to test your item and see if it qualifies)

Orange: magnetic, right next to the brown "non-magnetic" metals bin

Plastic wrapping and packaging
 Those are the main dumpsters I use. There are other places for regular trash--for example, if your small can isn't cutting it, you can bring an additional bag of trash for only 7.50E per 120 liter bag ($10.40 for 32 gallons of trash). Also, you can drop off electronic items that don't work (like our broken toaster oven, extension cord, etc), light bulbs (in their own container), cork from wine bottles, CDs, and batteries. Again, each of these has their own special container. If you have to get rid of larger items (like a mattress or crib pieces), you can bring them here and they will take them from you. Last year you had only a few coupons to use for larger items and then you needed to pay to drop them off, but this year you can bring these items at no extra charge. Also, the city also has a compost pick up once a month, if you put out that can. Thankfully, I don't...I can't imagine the smell of composted items in a can for a month!! Ugh!

Needless to say, this was a HUGE adjustment to my life. Americans SO take for granted the ability to toss something in the trash can and not think about it again!! I confess I am anxious to get back to the States where trash-sorting won't take over my kitchen. Ahh, the luxury to just throw something in the kitchen trash and not think about how it needs to be sorted!! But I also enjoy a great sense of accomplishment in conquering our trash heap. I'm even proud to say that we do fine with our 120 liter bin that we put out only twice a month. This includes some of our valuable trash space being taken up by diapers!
Now if you'll excuse me...I have to take out the trash.

1 comment:

Mom said...

I glad you got that out of your system. You had quite the learning curve! But, you mastered it! Good for you and welcome back to America where we haven't gotten this detailed.....yet!