Sorting Trash in Germany: Organic Waste or Biomüll

Organic waste is Biomüll in German, and since January 2015, we here in Hessen, have to separate our organic waste from the Restmüll (general waste).

General waste contained about 50% of organic waste, which is about 5000 tons of such. This also means in terms of truckload numbers, that those extra 500 organic waste loads used to get taken to the incineration plant at a higher cost. To compare the cost – burning 1000 kg Restmüll costs euro 240, whereas 1000 kg of recycling organic waste costs only euro 60.

What is Biomüll for the good German and law-abiding, trash-sorting citizen? Here is a comprehensive list of what goes into the brown Biotonne (organic-waste container). This list was taken from our local newspaper (issue: September 2014)

  • Leftover and spoiled food
  • Moldy bread
  • Dairy products
  • Meat and fish
  • Bones
  • Hair, feathers, wood shavings
  • Produce (including exotic fruits and peelings)
  • Horticultural waste and trimmings such as grass, tree, bush, as well as flowers, weeds, dead leaves, needles, bark, fallen fruits
  • Tea leaves and coffee grounds incl. paper filters
  • Flower bouquets
  • Decorative plants
  • Old soil
  • Paper towels and paper napkins
  • Nut and egg shells

You can buy biodegradable paper bags or wrap your organic waste in old newspapers to dispose of it.

Organic Waste containers in Germany

Organic Waste containers in Germany

At the moment, our apartment building of 8 families only really makes use of one container. When we inquired, whether we could return one container, we were told we would be charged even more for the pick-up.

That kind of budgeting is waste, too.

What to Do with Quark from the German Supermarket

Another curiosity among my international friends is what to do with ‘Quark’ from the supermarket in Germany. The dairy section also offers Schmand, Crème fraîche, Quark, Frischkäse, etc., but today we focus on Quark.

Besides making ‘Käsekuchen’ (cheese cake) with it, there are many more savory ways to enjoy it. This one seemed the easiest to make:

Potatoes with Quark and linseed oil

Potatoes with quark and linseed oil


250gr  low fat soft cheese (Quark)

some onion grass

chopped onion

1 Tbsp linseed oil (German: Leinöl)

3 Tbsp milk

salt + pepper to taste

The Quark itself is a bit jello-like, so adding three Tbsp milk will give it a creamier consistency.


onion grass

I’ve got my own onion grass growing on the balcony

While contemplating its taste, I also remembered the American baked potato topped with bacon bits. Yes, I had ‘Schinkenwürfel’ (similar to bacon bits once fried) at home, and added this halfway through my meal. Oh, it was good.


Schinken means ham, but this is more of a ‘roher Schinken’ (crude), so once fried, it does resemble bacon bits.

Potatoes with Quark

Potatoes with Quark

This combination of potatoes, Quark and linseed oil is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acid.

It is also quick to make and these day-to-day ingredients are low in price.

There is Quark with 20% fat and 40%fat. For this dish, the 20% fat Quark is good enough, because the extra ingredients, especially the linseed oil, add more taste.

Halloween for Trick-or-Treaters in Germany

Halloween and its custom of going trick-or-treat came to Germany in the late 90s. Since then, among some of the expat children out for trick-or-treat, there had been some unpleasant experiences. Not all Germans know or recognize Halloween, and if you do ring a stranger’s house, he might chase you away and then you are the one who’s scared. Angry German can sound pretty scary. 🙂

I have been asked “How do I know it is safe and OK to ring the doorbell?”. It is safe and OK, if you see a Jack O’Lantern in front of the house. This is the sign you are welcome to ask for treats.

This information was given to me by a German mom for the Oberursel area.

Jack O'Lantern

Of course, I would always advise to go only to friends’ homes or other expats’ homes. Living the international school life, they are familiar with the custom.

Safe Drinking Water in Oberursel

Stadtwerke Oberursel supply high quality drinking water from the tap

Over the years, many expats have come to live in Oberursel. Some come from countries where only bottles water is considered safe drinking water and are really surprised to learn that in Oberursel, we can drink the water straight from the tap.

Forty-five years ago, on exactly the 1st of January 1968, the Stadtwerke Oberursel Taunus GmbH (Municipal Utilities, est. 1967) took over the water supply in Oberursel. Since then, the Stadtwerke Oberursel represents a safe and reliable provision of the number one resource – drinking water of high quality.

About 80% of Oberursel’s drinking water comes from the Haidtränktal, and its level is rated “soft” in accordance with the current Detergent and Cleansing Agents Acts. 15% of  Oberursel’s drinking water originates from the waterworks Riedwiese, and around 5% of Oberursel’s drinking water needs are covered by the Water Procurement Association of the Taunus area. The latter two water supplies are rated “hard”. As drinking water is the most important and best-controlled resource, it regularly undergoes quality control and is analyzed in accredited laboratories. Each year, 200 water samples are taken from the Oberursel water production plants, containers, and pipe network.

To ensure a safe and reliable drinking water supply, Oberursel provides a 295-kilometer long pipeline network. The Stadtwerke staff monitors, renews, extends and maintains these pipes. This way, optimal safety is ensured. In 2012, 38 new water connections were created, and a total of 86 water connections were renewed. A total of 501 meters of water supply lines were re-laid or renewed.

Wasserwerke Oberursel

Wasserwerke Oberursel

Drinking water from the tap in Germany is better than store-bought mineral water. The Stiftung Warentest, an agency which measures and evaluates safety and quality of consumer products and service, regularly arrives at this conclusion. Bottled still water often has fewer minerals, but more germs than tap water. Additionally, drinking water is very affordable: For €1.20, you can draw one liter of fresh tap drinking water each day for an entire year. For the same money, you can only buy six bottles of mineral water from a discount store (source: O-TON magazine Stadtwerke Oberursel, issue 1/2013).


* Much lower cost

* Better Safety and Health

* Home delivery into your kitchen

* No storage space needed

* No bottles to return



das Leitungswasser (tap water)

das Mineralwasser (mineral water)

stilles Wasser (still mineral water) + spritziges Wasser (sparkling water)

Ordering water at the restaurant:

A: “Ich hätte gerne eine Flasche Wasser.” (I’d like to have a bottle of water)

B: “Stilles oder spritziges?” (Still water or sparkling water?)

A: “Stilles, bitte.” (…)

How Many Vocational Jobs are there in Germany?

Germany is renowned for its Handwerk. The good side being how Germany’s vocational training gives people a livelihood, trainees become experts and learning a good trade pays your bills without having a college degree.

The downside is the notorious lateness of Handwerker, and some jobs seem to take forever. Our bathroom had a burst pipe and it took eight weeks before we could take a shower at home again.

On the other hand, our last Handwerker, who came to fix our dryer, came equipped with an iPad, took photos of his work and I signed his work report on it, too. Wow! He was my first iPad Handwerker. Times are changing.

Speaking of times changing – in 1971, Germany had 606 Ausbildungsberufe (vocational professions) with the number  dwindling down to 344 by 2007.

Politicians and Researchers ask for this number to be reduced even more. Having so many vocational professions, in today’s times, is costing the country a lot of money.

While going through the job training, trainees also have to attend the Berufsschule once a week. With professions getting more and more diversified, the cost of schooling them is rising while classes are getting smaller. We, the tax payers, make all this affordable.

Additionally, only certified businesses with a Meisterbrief (master craftsman diploma) can hire trainees.

Until 1971, trainees were called Lehrling (apprentice), which was then changed to Auszubildende(r), today’s politically correct term.

Back in my days and occasionally today, trainees complain about the little money they are earning. In Germany, the land of free education and vocation, many benefits are taken for granted.

One German dental trainee I had talked to was complaining about her low income while in training. I then informed her that in order to become a dental assistant, e.g. in the U.S.A. , she’d have to attend a dental college for six months and pay more than $ 20.000,- in tuition. This put things in perspective for her.

For a complete list of available vocational jobs, see Wikipedia.

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