Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Dear Burg Hausfrau


Dear Burg Hausfrau Who Complained that My Brown Rubbish Bin Smells,

Yes, it does. My brown bin smells because it is full of vegetable and food matter that I have lovingly separated from my glass, paper and other waste and put in one place where it waits for two weeks in the blazing sun for the brown bin collection day.

My brown bin smells because, unlike you, I don’t parcel up my food waste in seven layers of newspaper, which rightfully belongs in the green rubbish bin.

My brown bin smells because, unlike you, I have three small children, a job, friends, many lively interests, and once I have separated my food waste and removed it to the appropriate bin, I don’t concern myself with the state of my brown bin, or yours, for that matter.

However, I have a plan, one which will make you a lot happier.

Research reveals that in the Burg, the contents of the brown bin and the contents of the black bin (where non-recyclables go) are THROWN INTO THE SAME HOLE. I waste precious time lovingly separating my rubbish so that you can complain about the smell, and then the council can recombine them on my behalf.

I plan to return my brown bin to the council, and like other Burgers, take the step of combining my food and non-recyclable waste in the black bin, where I can use MANY LAYERS OF PLASTIC to conceal the smell of my food waste from your sensitive nostrils.

It’s win-win: I gain more precious time, you don’t have smell my rubbish and the council will have my waste combined in advance so that they don’t have to do it.

Only thing is, I might just complain about your smelly brown bin.

Yours sincerely,

Your Neighbour, of the Uniquely Stinky Bins.

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

18 thoughts on “Dear Burg Hausfrau

  1. Oh no: the Burg is only pretending to compost! That’s pretty sad. And equally sad is your hausfrau neighbor who evidently has plenty of time to come by to sniff your bins.

    There are two large, often smelly green bins across the road from me where we are free to dump any and all food waste. Nice gardeners come over from the biodynamic garden across the street, take the smelly bins away, and magically turn the contents into lovely compost heaps that in turn magically help create lovely vegetables and flowers.

    Now all I need to do is figure out a place to put a compost container on my stuffed-full countertops.

  2. Hilarious story! I take it there’s no back yard to make a compost pile?

  3. We have the joys of farm living, with a chicken bucket (which these days is for the geese because all the chickens died), for anything that a chicken might conceivably eat without becoming a cannibal, and a compost bucket, for everything else that we hope will eventually decay and produce compost for the garden..unfortunately my compost making skills and experience are zero, so all we have is a 1m square enclosure which never seems to fill up and never seems to turn into compost either.

    My suggestion is for you to get two chickens and keep them close by your neighbours fence. They can consume most of the food waste and compost it on the spot. Failing that pigs are an even better compost machine! You could even offer a processing service to your neighbours and hope that someone knows how to turn it into bacon when the time comes!

  4. Charlotte, a short while back I discovered one of those shockingly simple German housewife thingies (solutions) about compost bins usage. Apparently, before good housewives take their container or little bucket with discarded veggies bits outdoors to the brown bin, they put some water in the container. That way you can swirl the bits easily into the brown bin, and, secondly, veggie bits swimming in water don’t smell as high as those in rotting in air.

    Now, I’m not suggesting you use this method, but theoretically speaking, house-husbandry speaking, you got to wonder where they came up with such a simple solution. Personally, I think your nosy neighbour ain’t smelt anything yet… the whopper heat wave is due to descend down in your neck of the woods any day now.

  5. Tee hee – petty neighbour stories. You’ve got to love them. You need to check out this site and just feel lucky that she isn’t worse…

  6. Oh please tell me this is not the same one who complained about the smoky barbeque? Now what you need is some nicely packaged up fox doo doo…(I have plenty to spare from garden!)… she will NEVER complain about a mere brown bin again!

  7. And if it’s not the same one who complained about the barbecue, I can’t believe you have two such neighbours.

    The simple elegance of your solution made me smile but it is a shame that recyclables and non-recyclables are not kept separate at the dump. I suspect that might be a worldwide problem though. The only way we can be sure that our recyclables are recycled in our area is to take them to the depot under our own steam.

  8. Henitserk, isn’t it tragic? How empty her life must be. (As opposed to my bin, which is very full.)

    Dew, welcome! Yes, my plan to put all vegetable matter on the compost and then mix my other food remains in with the non-recyclables.

    Kit, chickens! That’s a good one. And perhaps we could have surprised the barbeque-hating neighbour with a bit of goat-slaughtering and braaing, African-style.

    Lia, maybe I should try a month of water-swirling, before I resort to losing the brown bin altogether. Do these water-swirlers not use the brown paper bags for their Muell then?

    Ali, you’re right. Gratitude is where it’s at. I’m grateful that I have more to enjoy in my life than noticing the state of other people’s bins.

    Different neighbour, Tanya. They are crawling out of the woodwork in our fourth year, having been silent thus far.

    Kerryn, it is a different neighbour. And it amazes me that in Germany, land of eco-friendly everything, that food waste and nappies could go into the same landfill. We do separate our glass into one container that is recycled, though, and our paper waste has its own bin and its own recycling process.

  9. I picture myself Mrs. Burg Hausfrau as a very ugly and sad little woman with a long long nose, to be able to sniff neighborly bins at night… Is she?

  10. It’s humorous to me that these neighbors never had any problems until now. They must realize you are staying. :o)

  11. This is hilarious! I feel your pain. My 80 year old hausfrau neighbor used to educate (aka take me out to the bins and show me right then and there) me on a weekly, wait, no, a daily basis until I composted, recycled, garbaged exactly as she preferred. Man that was a HUGE lesson in patients and respect for our elders. She turned out to be the biggest godsend for my life in Germany, but I surely wanted to rebel on more than one occasion. Now back in the US, I compost and recycle like a maniac. My town isn’t nearly as recycle friendly as Germany is and it breaks my heart to put a plastic bag in the garbage can. All those years of training made a big impact on me. Come to think of it, I might need therapy!

  12. oops, I meant patience, not the doctor kind.

  13. Hi there, newbie commenter chiming in.

    Gotta love passive-aggressive neighbours, no matter which country. I’ll admit I’m guilty of doing this though, years ago. My upstairs neighbour had a kid that stomped around so hard that plaster would fall off the ceiling into my lovely warm bath where I was relaxing with a glass of wine. To seek revenge, I played Paint It Black about 10 times in a row, at full volume, with the windows open and the bass all the way up. Revenge is sweet.

  14. Smithereens, I don’t know what she looks like, because she complained about my bins to another neighbour who kindly relayed the message, accompanied by useful suggestions as to how to remedy the problem! However, I suspect she is the one who favours house-coats and has always looked upon me as if I am a bad smell.

    Charlottalove, you are spot-on. It’s dawned on them that these foreigners who don’t manicure their lawn, scour their bin daily or have lace curtains are sticking around. The stealth campaign has begun!

    Ms Tesha, how about you come round for dinner this week and share your bin knowledge? It would make great supper-time conversation, non?

    Amity, I think your revenge was wonderful. Some neighbours just go too damn far.

  15. I hope the compost will compensate.

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