A rubbish experience

Deutsch: Bozen-Bolzano — Bioabfalltonne {| cel...
A Biomüll bin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of all the things about life in Germany, that annoy, amuse or simply puzzle me, the one thing I hate the most and don’t think I’ll ever get over is dealing with the Biomüll.
Time for a little German lesson at this point, I think. Bio means organic (lots of Bio shops around here!) and Müll is, well, rubbish – or trash if you prefer (hi Americans!). So Biomüll is organic waste or, in other words, food. This includes all fruit and vegetable peelings, but also leftovers, any out-of-date stuff that needs to be thrown away, teabags and – bizarrely – corks (although some areas have special cork collections as well). All of this waste goes in a special, separate bin to your ordinary household waste. So unless you want to troop all the way to the outside bin every time you have mashed potatoes for tea, you are expected to have what is basically a compost heap in a small container in your kitchen – unless you happen to live in Mannheim city centre, where there are no Biomüll bins. Instead food waste goes in the “Restmüll” – Rest meaning “everything else” basically. The decision on which types of bins to have outside is taken by the individual town (although the law states that there must be recycling bins, in some form or other) but as far as I know only Mannheim Stadt have chosen to do away with Biomüll. So I have to put up with having my compost container in the kitchen. However, having the thing there isn’t really a problem. It’s a perfectly simple system – recyclables (other than glass) in one bin, vegetable peelings in another and everything else in a small carrier bag we keep for the purpose (there isn’t much Restmüll). Glass and bottles that have a deposit on them go in the cupboard ready for either returning or taking to the large glass containers that are dotted around the place. All very easy. The problem comes when the Biomüll needs to be taken down…

This is actually supposed to be Jan’s job  – along with washing the dishes, although I am actually more forgiving on the latter and usually end up doing them myself. Most of the time, Jan actually does take down the Biomüll – if only because I nag remind him constantly until he does – I really, really hate the Biomüll! However, this time Jan had let it build up for several weeks (despite my comments!) and still didn’t take it down despite having an entire day off on Thursday. Supposedly to pack, but he didn’t do that either until 10 o’clock at night! Since he is now away for a week, and the stuff in there was getting to the stage where it no longer looked like food and I was beginning to fear it might actually come to life and take over the kitchen, I had no choice but to take the evilness down. So I grabbed the little bin, taking care to hold the handle with as few fingers as possible, and headed down two flights of stairs to the courtyard out the back. Once there, I opened the Biomüll container – causing a cloud of flies to swarm into my face –  and emptied our food stuffs onto the remains of everyone else’s that was already in there.

Bubbly Bins Dirty BinUnfortunately, I had forgotten to put the handle down, so the remains of the Biomüll bag (made of potato starch so it, too, turns into compost – and this one had already started to dissolve!) hung itself over it, meaning I had to use my finger to remove it. At this point I was almost physically sick! That trauma over with, I then had to take the Biomüll bin back upstairs using that very same handle – now covered in whatever horrid liquid substances had been lurking at the bottom of the bin. Needless to say, the first thing I did on reaching the top was wash my hands! Next followed the washing out of the dirty bin – squirt in a tonne of all-purpose cleaner, fill the kettle to the max. line and boil it, pour a couple of jugs of hot water from the tap into the bin while waiting for the kettle to boil, add boiling water, boil kettle again and add more boiling water, leave to soak for a while. Later the horrid mixture goes down the toilet , with lots of swishing around and pouring from different angles to makes sure all the edges get clean. Once the bin has been thoroughly rinsed out, it goes back to the kitchen to dry before having a new potato starch bag put in it, the toilet gets cleaned and the trauma of taking down the Biomüll is over. Until next time…

The world’s worst housewife tidies up

On Monday the boyfriend is returning from LA. Actually, he gets back tomorrow but really, really late and by the time he’s in Karlsruhe again it will be the early hours of Monday morning, so he’s going straight home (to his place I mean) and I won’t get to see him until after work on Monday. That’s the day after tomorrow. In roughly 60 hours he will be standing in my living room. So I decided I’d better tidy up a bit. Unfortunately, as we all know, I am the world’s worst housewife. Thus my version of tidying up looks something like this:

– Take the bin bag for things that can be recycled out of the bin. Wander round the flat with it looking for other recycleable rubbish that I’ve left lying around at various times because the bin was just sooo far away. Put on some shoes and head down the stairs (3 whole flights!). Place rubbish bag in the big bin outside. Check mailbox on the way back upstairs only to discover it’s empty. Sulk.

– Arrive back upstairs. Decide I deserve a cup of tea before continuing with the housework. Boil water in a pan (I seriously need to get me a kettle!), pour water over teabag in cup. Remember that I forgot to buy milk yesterday.. and the day before, and the day before that. Check fridge. Disover that old milk is still in date (just!). Use it to make tea.

– Take cup of tea and the remains of random lemon cake into the living room (this is known as “breakfast”). Check e-mails, mess around on facebook, read blogs. Do all of this while eating. Drop cake crumbs all over myself, the floor and the chair I’m sitting on. Yay! More mess to clean up.

– Go to the kitchen. Start running hot water into the sink. Return to the internet while I wait for the water to run. Head back to the kitchen where I manage to wash 2 whole dishes before getting bored and returning to the internet. Repeat every 5 minutes until the dishes are finally done.

– Locate new bin bag for the recycleable waste bin. Discover that the organic waste (ie. food) bin is also full (they take rubbish separation reeally seriously here!) Decide I can’t be bothered to go all the way back downstairs right now. Return to the internet and write this blog post.

– And now that the blog post is written I shall make a start on the floor. If I sweep all the crumbs into little piles now I might even manage to get the dustpan and brush out to remove the piles before I go out for lunch later… Wish me luck people!