Apr 7th, 2021, 02:27 PM

Five Tips for the Sustainable Parisian

By Malia Elder
Paris rooftops
Image Credit: Malia Menard Elder
Learning how to live sustainably in a new country is not easy, so here are tips on how to enjoy a Parisian life while saving the planet!

As a French citizen I grew up in an environmental system that is not straightforward or easy to figure out, especially if you cannot speak French. I wanted to write this article to share with the AUP community my tips on how you can incorporate environmental habits into your Parisian life.

1. Reuse your jars

From mayonnaise to jam, almost everything comes in glass jars in France. So why not reuse them? They make perfect containers for any leftover food and are great for keeping jewelry and hair ties or using as drinking glasses. Upcycling jars is such a simple thing to do, and it will make you life simpler and save you from having to purchase new glasses and containers. Try it out!

Image Credit: Malia Menard Elder


2. Walk as much as you can

Paris is such a beautiful city and walking is the perfect way to get your steps in while enjoying the vibrant beauty that the city has to offer. Very often taking the Metro will take approximately the same amount of time as walking. So, put on your favorite podcast and take a walk, but remember to wear comfy shoes! In addition, Paris has amazing cycle services, whether it is through Lime or Velib cycling in Paris is the perfect way of discovering the city whilst saving our planet.

Image Credit: Beatrice Spencer

3. Always have a reusable water bottle on you

Tap water in France is drinkable, so take advantage of that privilege and invest in a reusable water bottle. Additionally, the city of Paris is famous for its city water fountains where you can easily refill your water bottle. In fact, you can download an app called “Les Fontaines de Paris” to access a map of all the water fountains in Paris. Additionally, AUP has multiple water fountains on campus where you can refill your bottles between classes. If you are like me and you enjoy drinking coffee I would recommend checking out Kambukka -- they make small thermoses that are perfect for coffee and cold beverages.

Image Credit: Malia Menard Elder

4. Use a tote bag

Paris is a city of opportunities and you never know when you might purchase something. Having a tote bag has saved me from buying plastic bags multiple times. Not only are they light and take up very little space, but they are also cheap and easy to wash. They make the perfect accessory for any picnic and will save you from having to buy plastic bags whilst ensuring the safety of the environment. You can always purchase them in grocery stores, use the one offered by AUP during orientation, or buy one from a smaller business. I know that Shakespeare & Co. sell them, so if you like reading and going to bookstores this might be the perfect tote bag for your new life in Paris.

Image Credit: Malia Menard Elder

5. Recycle

The recycling services can be quite confusing especially when you first move to Paris but believe me you will soon get a hang of it. In general, you should have access to three different garbage bins in your apartment complex.  The yellow bin is the main recycling bin, you should use it to dispose of paper, cardboard, all plastic packaging and all metal packaging. The white bin is used to dispose of any food-related glass packaging. Note that drinking glasses, Tupperware, or any glass that is not related to food waste should be disposed of in the green bin. The green bin is used for any leftover waste you might have. The brown bin (available only in the 2nd, 12th and 19th arrondissement) is used for your organic waste. Note that your organic waste should be disposed of in a bio-compostable transparent bag, which you can purchase in supermarkets or take from the fruit and vegetable aisle. To recycle properly I encourage you use a moving carton or Ikea bag where you can store your recycling in your apartment. Additionally, remember to always wash and clean your recyclables as contamination may render them no longer recyclable and damage the recycling machines.

Image Credit: Malia Menard Elder