German Lessons: what doesn’t go in the Bio trash can

Posted on 24.07.2011


There are officially FIVE trash receptacles in my apartment.

There’s the Restmüll, for ‘normal trash’ that doesn’t go in any of the other trash cans.

There’s the Glas, which is for glass items that don’t carry a pfand (payback/deposit) upon return symbol.

There’s the Papier, for paper goods recycling.

There’s the Gelbersacke, which is for all types of packaging that are not glass or paper, or items carrying a pfand.

And then there’s the Bio bag. The ‘Bio Bag’ is literally a paper bag that you use to collect bio items (to be discussed below) and then toss in the Bio trash can that gets emptied once every other week. Bio to me translated pretty seamlessly to ‘compostable items’, but it appears that I may have been wrong. More on that below.

We’ve been having a bit of an issue, NAY: I’VE been having an issue with the Bio trash can lately, as I’m sure my neighbor upstairs has been as well. The issue is our downstairs neighbor, the little old Frankish lady whom I can quite often only barely understand. She’s been doing some yard work and dumping all of the yard waste into the Bio trash can. And she’s totally able to do that, no problem, but the issue is that she takes up the entire damn trash can with her sticks and leaves and rotten apples that she refuses to eat from her apple tree (then why do you have it?!?!?).

This caused the issue that happened at the end of last week. I’ve been putting MY bio stuff in the can as well, which is totally within my right, but apparently the little lady is having a problem with that, because the stuff I’m putting in the bio can stinks, and it happens to sit near her bedroom window.

While this generally falls under ‘not my problem’, it becomes my problem when she bitches to the upstairs neighbor first, and then René upon his arrival home, about the smell from the bio trash can.

René told me later that she caught him as he was coming into the house (with his suitcase) and was complaining about it to him. I asked what was wrong with putting the things I’d been putting in (shelled tails of shrimp, mostly, but a few small bits of smoked salmon, old vegetables, bread that had gone moldy, etc), which were all things I was convinced went into the bio can, at any time.

So apparently NO meat, whatsoever, should go into the bio can. And also, apparently, one should wrap all old bits of food or anything that might attract flies (read, EVERYTHING) in paper, since paper is allowed in the Bio can.

I was about to write a ‘Being Green’ entry about ditching the bio bag last week, because that to me seemed like a huge waste of paper (and it still is), but it seems that now I’ll have to rethink that, as I’m about to go from not using the paper bag at all (which I was trying out lately and probably caused the bitching) to using not only the paper bag, but a bunch of extra paper in my bio bag to cover all of the rotting food items.

Personally, I think the old lady has a big enough yard and enough flower gardens to start a compost heap, but I doubt she’d do that. I’d do that, and I will, when I have my own garden. For now, the only access we have to the yard down below is putting our things in the proper trash cans. Also, I’m not going to stop putting things that belong in the bio can in there, so her issues with the windows are not my problem after today. I will, however, start wasting paper to wrap food to go in the bio bag. I guess I can just take it out of the paper recycling bin. Or, I wonder, if just using the bio paper bag is enough?

Germans and their rules. Sigh.