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Friday, May 16, 2014

One Man's Sperrmüll, Another Man's Treasure

Imagine all of the worst items you see in a garage sale: ugly furniture, broken electronics, dirty rugs. Instead of people trying to sell this stuff, however, the entire city just sets their junk out along the curb on the same day, causing all of the sidewalks in your neighborhood to look like this:

This is actually a special kind of garbage day that is held in Germany once every other month, which is known as Sperrmüll (bulk garbage).

Scrappers drive around in their trucks grabbing all of the metal they can find. Students and families may occasionally grab a piece of furniture if they find something worthwhile. Otherwise, garbage trucks come around to collect the leftovers.

Wednesday was Sperrmüll day where I live, so on Tuesday afternoon, everyone began setting out their garbage. I went out for a walk that evening and happened to find something that I quite liked.

The German boyfriend and I had been wanting a small table for the balcony, and the color of this table caught my eye. I called up Marco immediately. Since he is not a big fan of taking furniture from Sperrmüll, however, he was a little weary.

"I can't come right now, so you are going to have to carry whatever you find," he said.

Challenge accepted. It is a pretty small table, and I was only about a 10-minute walk from my apartment. 

And although it is definitely used and a little rickety, I really like it. Surprisingly enough, Marco does too! So, no more having to search for a table for the balcony! Thanks, Sperrmüll!

If you live in Germany, have you ever gotten something from the Sperrmüll? 

Or for my American friends, have you ever found a treasure in someone else's garbage?


  1. When the kids were young they used to garbage pick. I have a Mad Hatter doorstop that Jim picked up at the dump.

  2. I live in Germany and may have got a weird glittery Christmas tree via one street find *whispers* but are you actually allowed to take stuff from the Sperrmüll? Every time we've put stuff out, even when we're only two mins going in to the building to get the next bunch of crap, some of the stuff we've just put out just disappears - but we don't see who takes it. It's like ninjas want our old Ikea tat. Very strange:-)

    1. I think you are definitely allowed to take stuff from the Sperrmüll. Imagine how much stuff would go to the dump if nobody took from each others' Sperrmüll!

      Your glittery Christmas tree sounds like a good find! And yeah, anything that is in decent condition is picked up so fast, it is crazy.

  3. I certainly agree that one man's Sperrmüll can be another man's treasure but I think that, strictly legally speaking, it's an offence to take something from the Spermüll. I know that it's often done but I think one of the reason you never actually see someone doing it is because it's not really allowed.
    Still, happy you found your little gem for the balcony and I'm certain the one who got rid of it doesn't mind at all.

    1. You have never seen someone doing it? At least in the town I live, everyone walks around taking stuff on Sperrmüll day. Especially all of the foreigners that drive around in their big trucks grabbing scrap metal.

      I just looked it up, and it does look like you are right, though. As far as I read, everyone says it is technically illegal to ever take something from someone's garbage, but it is generally accepted in Germany that everyone takes stuff on Sperrmüll days.

    2. OK, of course I've seen those van's and single people without vehicle but as long as they don't bother me and want to 'help' me get the things out of my garage so that in the end more is missing than I intended to give I don't care.
      As you said, it's generally accepted.


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