Taking Out the Trash

Oh, my.  I completely forgot.  It’s Trash Day tomorrow.  I’ll have to post Baden pics another time because Trash Day gets all my brainpower.

First, you must understand that trash is not simply trash over here.  You don’t just flip something into a can when you’re done with it.   I believe they don’t have any landfills anymore over here so everything except a very small percentage gets a new life after you’re done with it.  It’s mandatory, it’s Earth-a-licious and until it leaves your home, it’s incredibly stinky. 

First, you must examine the item to be thrown “away” closely, determine its origin, its category and its potential.  Then you select the proper receptical that will house that item in a peaceful slumber until it is reborn. 

Each house has four five bins:  yellow-bag (gelb sack), residual, paper and bio.  And glass.

Gelb Sack is for plastic, aluminum, mixed material (yogurt containers, for instance, or those plastic covered styro-trays that hold your meat) and styro products (which you shouldn’t really use anyway).  You are issued Gelb Sacks by the Verbandsgemeinde (county office) and you must return to that office when you need more. There is ring-kissing involved, and always avert your eyes.

gelb=yellow. See? It's yellow!

 When it’s time for Gelb Sack pickup,you just lay them on the ground on the curb – there is no limit to the amount of gelb you can have on your curb.

Then, there is paper.  Paper is just thrown loose into the paper bin outside (we have an inside can that we dump into the outside one when it’s full).  The outside container is exactly the size of a typical trash rolling-to-the-curb container in America.  It’s blue.  What can go in Paper?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  Used napkins?  nope.  Paper towels you’ve used to clean the stovetop?  nope.  Wet wipes?  never.  Why are you using those things anyway?!  Use rags for that.  Just clean paper shall enter the paper container – not tainted, soiled, or otherwise offended paper.  Old mail?  SURE!  (just remember with envelopes to tear out the plastic window where you can see the address).  Advertisements?  Absolutely.   Things like that – pure, unfettered paper.

also: boxes and food container (clean) boxes and such...

Then there’s residual – aka:  the American Garbage.  It’s the “normal” or “I don’t know what else to do with it” garbage.  Just use a Glad Tall Kitchen type bag in the house for this.  Stinky things like cooked fish can go in here, soiled paper, Personal Waste (doggie poo) etc.  Things for when you just don’t care or have no other home -they don’t check it – you can put anything in there – it’s a Free Space garbage.  They give you a nice rolling dumpster for your residual garbage outside.  Problem is, it only fits about 2 tall kitchen bags in it when it’s full.  Think about that:  two bags until garbage day.  Therefore, recycling is NOT an option – it’s a necessity.  Oh and did I mention that those two bags are over TWO WEEKS?  Not one.  They pick up every TWO WEEKS.  Don’t be careless with your residual.

A luxury item: This one box will probably last a full two years. It's over a year old already.

Then there’s Bio:  Food scraps (but only compost type food – no olive pits and such).  Dinner scraps (no fish!), lawn mowings, plant and garden scraps, and egg cartons and paper towels too (bonus!).  We all have boxes under our sinks that we scrape plates into, then we carry the boxes out to the bio dumpster outside and pour it in.  They also have “Bio Bags” which are made of some sort of gelatin I think.  You can put really saucey or slimey gross bio in there and it won’t get all over the inside of your can, but in a couple weeks?  It dissolves.  There is no possible way to sum up how foul the bio container smells in 95 degree heat.  It’s indescribably foul.

And onward…glass!  Glass things we rinse out and place in a container and maybe monthly we haul it to the middle of town, sort it, and dump each glass thing in its proper color receptacle:  brown glass, clear glass and green glass.

So TRASH DAY is here!  Trash day is every week, but NOT ALL TRASH GETS PICKED UP EVERY WEEK, like I mentioned.  It’s on the average, every two weeks – sometimes 4.  But it’s easy, all you have to do is check the handy dandy chart…

So if the cosine of A is equal to pi over the root of the...yep! It's yellow bag tomorrow!

Look how happy those people look on the pamphlet – that’s you!  You have to line up your village and your day and follow the column with the date down and you get a code – check the key to find out what your code means and that’s what’s getting picked up.  God help you if there’s a holiday that week.  Most of the time, we just look at what our German neighbors are rolling out there.

RS Day - Residual and S=gelb sack. That's our residual can (everything garbage) and our gelb bags at the curb. The residual can only goes about halfway down, and it's about the size of Cameron. Tiny!

So that’s it!  I wanted to be so detailed to prove how much we’ve come to know about this process over the last year.  Is it bewildering?  Absolutely.  Is it a pain?  Sure.  

So we had to take a class when we got here to learn all this.  So it takes more than 5 minutes every week. So…so…so…

We are forced to do it, and so we must do it and guess what – we do it!  Greater good.  My question is – why in America is making people do something so hard if it’s for a greater good?!  There are whole entire countries out there full of people that do this every day.  Old people, young kids – everyone has to and they do.  But ask an American to scrape a plate or sort their bathroom trash bin when they take it to the big trash bin, and they shudder and gasp,  “But it’s…icky!”

An interesting side result of all this is how each consumer and waster comes to look at the world around them when they have to go through their trash piece by piece.   I think about things before I buy them – those micro-meals?  A LOT of waste that frankly I just don’t have room for.  Paper plates?  An absolute luxury item – I don’t have room to throw them out.  We buy a LOT more glass containers.  I use cotton towels to clean things a lot more than paper towels.  I waste less.  I re-use.  I think before I throw it out.  How un-American!  Imagine…

~ by mstngsal22 on July 28, 2010.

3 Responses to “Taking Out the Trash”

  1. I do hope they gave you a decoder ring with the garbage manual

  2. At about what percentage would you peg the chances of a similarly strident recycling program catching on in the U.S., either voluntarily or by legislative fiat? If it were proposed, would you support it? Maybe with some changes like more frequent pickup of the bio bags?

    • Utah – Do you think it could possibly fly over there anywhere except maybe in a commune, hippy compound, or a biosphere? If it WAS proposed, I think it would have to be mandatory. A ton of the BIO stuff wouldn’t even apply anyway as America has this revolution called The Garbage Disposal. Bet you never even CONSIDER dumping your cheerios in the toilet, do you?! It takes all day for the last O to finally go down the flusher.

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