What Goes into the Biomüll?

When you first arrive in Germany,  your new residence comes with quite a few new rules. Among them is the business of how to separate the trash.

Biomüll Tonnen

Some of you care to do so, so here is the list of waste items for the brown container (German: Biotonne):

  • kitchen waste – anything raw or cooked
  • vegetables and fruits (no citric fruits though)
  • cheese, fish, meat, bones, and cold cuts
  • egg shells and nut shells
  • milk, flour, and cereal products
  • dry goods having gone past the expiration date (without the packaging)
  • oils and fats (solidified)
  • coffee grounds, filter bags, tea bags, and tea leaves
  • paper towels, paper napkins, and tissues
  • newspaper used for wrapping
  • lawn cuttings
  • shrubs, fallen leaves, and bark
  • other organic waste, such as  hair, feathers, cat litter, wood shavings, and sawdust (only from untreated wood)
  •  hay, straw, and pots made of peat and cardboard

 

Christmas Tree Pick-up for Recycling in Germany

The time has come for our Nordmanntanne (Caucasian fir) to get picked up by the tree collection truck on Monday, 16 January.

We apartment dwellers will just dump it over the balcony. The Hausmeister will go around, and pull them over to the sidewalk.

Our fir has been resting on the balcony ever since we took off its decorations. This is usually done by Epiphany, 6 January.

In Germany,  about 22 million households have a Christmas tree, with a third of them getting decorated the day before Christmas Eve.

When I was a child, the tree got decorated about an hour before the gift-giving on Christmas Eve. The tree had to be a secret, so my folks had to wait till the last moment. It was Christkind who brought the presents and decorated the tree as well.

Some other fun facts:

  • 135.000 children send a wish list to the Christmas post-office in 51777 Engelskirchen (near Cologne).
  • The tradition of eating goose on Christmas Day probably comes from England.
  • 30% of all Germans hope for a white Christmas.
  • 91% of all Germans exchange gifts on Christmas eve.
  • Parents spend on average euro 78 for presents per child.

German Words for the Day: Altglas, Ruhezeit and Nachbarschaftslärm

Adhering to the Ruhezeit (quiet time) in Germany also requires  knowing when you can dump your glass bottles for recycling.

In Oberursel, the times are Monday – Saturday from 8:00 – 13:00 and again from 15:00 – 19:00. The time in between is the so-called Ruhezeit, when you can’t play any musical instruments, and do any drilling or other noisy home improvements (paid repairmen are excluded from this rule). You should also avoid doing noisy housework.

Yes, this is a quiet country.

The Federal Office for Environment suggests not using the Altglassammelbehälter (recycling glass container) after 20:00. Our area, the Rosengärtchen is a residential area, and I can only assume that because of this, the dropping-off is limited to 19:00.

More on the rules and explanations of timely restrictions from the federal office are here in German: http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/themen/verkehr-laerm/nachbarschaftslaerm-laerm-von-anlagen/altglassammelbehaelter#textpart-1

Nachbarschaftslärm: neighborhood noise pollution

Braunglas

Recycling of Mobile Phones

I love recycling. It is not only a money-saver, but also brings out your personal creativity, enhances sustainability, with the latter being the most important of all –  local and global sustainability have a great impact on the economy, climate and environment.

So when my brother phoned me the other day to tell me he had dropped his phone into the loo, but got a 100 euro refund for it from the Deutsche Telekom for his exchange, I was tickled about this quirky exchange.

Unfortunately, this kind of sale ended on 4 March, but we can be sure of another one coming soon.

But if you do want to donate your mobile phone, exchange it for a coupon, or use it directly towards your next purchase (watch for this special kind of sale), than you can do so at any Telekom Shop in your area.

In Germany, more than 80 million mobile phones are hidden away in drawers – there must be at least two cells in our own drawer.

Telekom uses the proceeds to support the Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V. (German environmental aid group). More information about mobile phone recycling on their website: t-mobile.de handy ruecknahme in German.

 Sony Ericsson mobile phone

This one had been passed on down the line – starting with my niece, who passed it on to our son, who then passed it on to his younger sister as a Christmas present (!) a couple of years later. It has been in our home for at least 12 years, with the last five years spent in the drawer. 

What an immobile life.

Christmas Tree pick-up in Germany

Today was the big day for the pick-up. We were told to have the tree out there by the roadside as of 6 a.m. and once the truck passed through, there would be no further chance to dispose of it.

The pick-up is always scheduled in the week after Epiphany, when Germans traditionally take down any Christmas decorations. Epiphany signals the end of the Christmas season.

Christmas tree pick-up in Germany

I don’t know why this woman assisted, unless she brought her little tree by at the very last minute and offered to dump it herself. I am surprised this isn’t against the regulations.

Off the trees go to their next destination, where they will be turned into wood chips.