Hasta la mista, baby? How to vote for your favourite Vienna trash can joke

The Austrian capital is updating its set of funny one-liners on the city's trash cans. Here are the contestants and how to vote.

vienna trash cans and worker
Trash cans with funny sayings in Vienna (Photo: MA 48 / Christian Houdek)

Austria’s capital is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in the world. But even Vienna has trouble making trash cans look like more than just grey eyesores. 

Instead, the city has created funny stickers of one-liners with double meanings, Austrian jokes and wordplay using German sounds and vocabulary – all the while encouraging people to put their litter in the bin. 

Some require a high level of German, while others will elicit a chuckle from those with a very basic level of the language. 

One of the first to start appearing on Vienna streets said ‘Hasta la mista, baby?’ (Do you have trash, baby?), a joke using the German word for ‘trash’ (Mist) and the famous Terminator quote ‘hasta la vista, baby’ (which itself is a play on the Spanish ‘hasta la vista’ which means ‘goodbye’).  

The joke gets an even deeper meaning once you remember (did you forget already?) that former US governor/robot from the future Arnold Schwarzenegger is an Austrian. 

The funny sayings on the public trash cans have been a part of the Vienna cityscape since 2009, and there are more than 18,000 waste units in the city, according to the MA 48, Vienna’s waste management and street-cleaning authority.

The contestants

Now, Vienna is looking for a new addition to the funny bunch, and the city’s MA48 waste and refuge service is throwing several contests on Facebook to pick the winner. 

You can vote using different emojis. 

The heart emoji votes for something that could be translated as “chilling instead of littering” (excuse our attempts, double-meaning language jokes are almost impossible to translate).

The care emoji votes for “Next stop: trashcan”. 

At the time of writing, the fan-favourite is a joke with the sound of the word “trash” in German, which is similar to part of the word “family” in the language. The translation would be “I am part of the family”. 

The runner up can be translated as: “I missed you”, also joking with the German word Mist for trash.

READ ALSO: Stephansdom: Vienna woken up after hacker sets church bells to ring at 2am

Results for this round (there are others!) should be out this Friday when Vienna residents will know which witty one-liner will join others, such as “Open for you around the clock”.

Or “one of 18,000 branches”:

There’s no lack of sentences, but one thing is for sure: Ganz Wien Bleibt Clean (All of Vienna will remain clean – it sounds better in German, trust us).

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EXPLAINED: Will Austria ban horse-drawn carriages?

Vienna's Fiaker - the horse-drawn carriages seen across the city's streets for centuries - are popular with tourists, but animal rights advocates say the practice is cruel, particularly as temperatures rise.

EXPLAINED: Will Austria ban horse-drawn carriages?

The image of two horses carrying a carriage full of tourists mesmerised by beautiful Austrian sights is quite a common one, particularly in Vienna.

The Fiaker, which is the Austrian name (borrowed from French) for the set of two horses, plus a carriage and coachman, are quite popular and represent an important part of Viennese history.

The first license for a Fiaker was granted in the capital around 1700. They rose in popularity before the advent of cars in the 1900s.

“They are just as much a part of Vienna as St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Giant Ferris Wheel: the fiakers”, according to the Vienna Tourist Board.

READ ALSO: One day in Vienna: How to spend 24 hours in the Austrian capital

Now, though, the symbol for the capital has become the target of controversy. For years, animal rights groups have protested against the overworking of the animals, the stressful conditions for the horses on busy Viennese roads and the extreme heat they face in summer. 

What are the main issues raised?

For years now, several animal rights groups have protested against exploiting the animals for touristic purposes.

By Vienna regulations, the horses need to be out of the streets once temperatures reach 35C. Many groups ask for the limit to be at least 30C instead.

Additionally, the temperature base is measured at the stables, in the mostly shaded areas from where the animals leave every morning to work in Vienna’s first district, where the blazing sun and scorching pavements could make temperatures higher by several degrees.

READ ALSO: Why Vienna is a haven for wild animals – and where you can find them

Another issue raised by groups is that the fiaker no longer fits in a busy 21st-century capital – with its busy roads and loud cars. They claim that walking among the many vehicles and tourists of the first district is unnecessarily stressful for the horses.

A traditional Fiaker in the Viennese first district. (photo: Amanda Previdelli / The Local)

What do the fiaker associations say?

Many representatives of the organisations reiterate that the animals are well-cared for and used to the heat.

A spokeswoman for the carriage companies asks for a round table with politicians as debates heat up, ORF reported. The veterinarian Isabella Copar, who works for two Fiaker farms, says there is no basis for the 30C regulation.

“I don’t understand that politicians make a judgment on animal welfare, even though they have no idea about the animals”, she told the broadcaster.

READ ALSO: How to explore the Austrian mountains in the summer like a local

Copar mentions a 2008 study by the Veterinary school of the University of Vienna saying that after nearly 400 measurements on the animals, not a single case of “heat stress” was found.

As for the infamous cases when horses have collapsed in the streets of Vienna during particularly hot days, she states that the collapses are usually due to a horse disease.

It was never possible to establish a connection with the heat. “If this happens in the stable, no one is interested,” the veterinarian said.

What is next?

The latest news in the controversy is a major one. The Health Minister, who is also Animal Protection Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens), has stated he would “welcome” a debate about a Fiaker ban.

“You should think about it, really for animal welfare reasons, whether you should expose a horse to this stress.

According to the minister, there is a question also as to whether the use of the carriages fits in the context of a large city at all. “I think that’s a bit outdated”, he said.

READ ALSO: Austria bans ‘senseless’ killing of chicks with new animal welfare rules

There is a particular tug of war between the City and the Federal Government regarding whose responsibility it is to act on a possible ban or even tighten the rules.

Both authorities are set to talk about the issue in June. They are set to also speak with the Fiaker associations.

Vienna is unlikely to see a total ban as early as that. Still, a 30C temperature limit after which the horses would need to be sent back to stables could be heading to the capital.