Apr 10 2011

Living in Germany

Published by at 3:49 pm under Europe,People,Top Stories

The “villa” I live in with my family here in Stuttgart was a single-family residence in the 1920s. After World War II it was re-built into 5 “Wohnungen” (flats) and the flats sold off. A few weeks ago an American family moved in below us.

The other flat owners asked me to explain the “garbage disposal rules of the house” to the new tenant, since my U.S. English is better than theirs.

This is what I wrote our new American neighbors:

Dear Mr. & Mrs. XYZ,

Garbage rules of the house

As I briefly mentioned last week, your landlord asked me to communicate the house rules for garbage disposal to you (since my English is better than his). I promised to do it, so here we go:

  • VEWA is the property management company contracted by the owners to administer the buildings at nr. 5, 5A, 5B and 7. VEWA pasted the garbage disposal rules on the lids of the garbage boxes. Unfortunately, only in German, which doesn’t help you much.
  • So, here is my summary of things to do when it comes to garbage disposal. (I think you’ll enjoy this, because it gives a peep into the psyche of the people.)
  • Firstly, it’s important to divide your garbage (for eco reasons and because all the garbage doesn’t fit into the boxes otherwise). Keep the (1) glass, (2) all carton food packaging and (3) paper separate. Only place “the rest” (Restmüll) in the garbage boxes.
  • The glass should be thrown into the big glass containers placed on public spaces around our neighborhood (if you haven’t noticed one yet, ask me and I’ll tell you where I dispose of my glass).
  • Only throw your glass away between 9 and 6 on Mondays to Saturdays – the noise of breaking glass disturbs the people living in the vicinity of the glass disposal boxes and they will phone the police if you dispose outside the times displayed on the boxes.
  • There are always 3 glass boxes – one for white glass (weiss), one for green glass (grün) and one for brown glass (braun).
  • The “2” above (carton and paper food packaging, such as milk cartons, pizza boxes etc.) is collected in so-called yellow bags (gelbe Säcke), which are stored in your cellar until the day a special, private sector lorry comes to collect them.
  • Early on that day you should bring your “gelbe Säcke” from the cellar and place them with all the other bags on the sidewalk (you’ll see where…the older people in the building already stack their yellow bags the day before!) This garbage takes up a lot of space and would fill the black boxes if not separated out into the yellow bags. Also, the cartons can be recycled.
  • If you haven’t got the dates for yellow bag collection (roughly every 3 weeks), you can get it from me.
  • The yellow bags can be collected (free) from any cashier at any supermarket. Simply say: ich möchte gern gelbe Säcke, bitte. Then they will give you as many as you want.
  • About the “3”, namely paper and bigger cartons: collect all your paper and cartons separately in your home and then dispose of them in the green boxes.
  • Important: house nr. 5 (our house) only has the two bigger green boxes at its disposal – the small green boxes are not ours. They are for the people at 5A and 5B, who pay for their two small boxes, as we at nr. 5 pay for our two big green boxes. (Beware: the people at 5A and 5B really flip out when we throw stuff in their boxes.)
  • The special lorry which comes to empty our paper boxes roughly every 3 weeks doesn’t take cartons away that are simply flattened – they must also be cut up into smaller pieces to fit into the green boxes (phewww!). If not cut, the guys simply throw them on the floor and leave them behind.
  • Now we are back at “the rest”: this garbage goes in the black boxes only – not in the green boxes.
  • Again: we only own the two big black boxes. So, only place your “rest” in the big black boxes. These are emptied roughly every two weeks and experience has shown that two big boxes handle the load of house Nr. 5 (only just…if this was not Schwabenland, the house would have paid for 3 boxes!)
  • If you want a closer definition of what all goes in the “gelbe Sack”, I’ll gladly give it to you. (It’s a bit tricky and the yellow bag removers easily leave bags behind containing non-allowed things…that’s also why these bags are thin and see-through…so they can see what’s inside!)
  • There is another category of carbage (yes!) and that is “Sperrmüll”. That’s all the stuff that can burn, but are too big for the boxes (the “Restmüll” is burnt.) Under “Spermüll” is included mattrasses, beds, cupboards.
  • To complicate things, some stuff which cannot burn also fall under “Sperrmüll”, such as bigger, electric equipment (PCs, PC screens, fridges).
  • All “Spermüll” goes into the cellar. Twice a year the city comes to remove this (free) on dates you can/must organize with them.  I have the number to phone. There is a bit of a procedure to follow, which I’ll tell you whenever you feel it’s time to empty your cellar. (Mine is overfilled…I’ll tell you when next I order a “Spermüll”, then you can simply add your stuff to ours.) The stuff must be packed on the sidewalk the night before. (Often lorries from countries in the old Soviet Union come around on that night, and then there’s nothing for the city to remove the next morning…Two nights later someone in Rumania will sleep comfortably on your old steel bed.)
  • Finally, there are things which do not qualify as “Sperrmüll”, such as small electrical house equipment (iron, radio, CD player, hi-fi etc.). These you may take to any of the (about 3) “Werthöffe” in Stuttgart, where unfriendly faces will inspect carefully what you brought along, before taking them in (free).

It’s quite important to stick to these rules – for peace in the street. Since there are so many rules and they burn up so much time to adhere to, the people get uptight when one in the group doesn’t play ball. (My explanation for why the neighbors may appear aloof and unfriendly at first.) On the other hand, stick to the rules, and they’ll warm to you and you’ll have a great time in the street.

Welcome to organized Schwabenland.


2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Living in Germany”

  1. Fanieon 11 May 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Hi Christo,
    Het al vergeet hoe mal dit is – jy moet 1 dag per week verlof insit om al die te doen!

  2. adminon 11 May 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Hi Fanie,

    Ja, en dan kom nog die “decomposable garbage” ook. In n vorige gebou het die eienaar daarop aangedring dat ons ons groente/vrugte-afval in n komposgat in die tuin gooi, wat elke week op n bepaalde manier omgewoel is om die temperatuur binne bepaalde grense te hou.

    Hoop die rooinekke is meer “relaxed”.


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