Oct 22nd, 2017, 07:08 PM

Learning to Live with Less

By Alex Bilodeau
Image Credit: Compostaparis.fr
Part 2: Discovering food waste solutions in Paris.

In my last article, I gave a lengthy exposition on my journey to reduce the waste in my life. It was eye-opening work having to manage every article of refuse I generated, but in a way it was easy because I was completely in control and had direct access to the systems of disposal that I used.

Since moving to Paris, I have had to adapt yet again to a life full of noise, clutter, and waste where I no longer have direct control.

The city of Paris has made a concerted effort to reduce waste and increase recycling. Laws have been instituted to require grocery stores to donate food that is approaching, or past, its sell-by date — stuff that is usually perfectly good to eat but would be thrown away. France has set ambitious goals to reduce waste in the coming years. You can clearly see an extensive network of recycling and waste sorting throughout Paris. But what you don’t often see is composting. And because I didn’t see it, I assumed with a certain level of disappointment that it was not something I would be able to continue here in Paris.

Image Credit: Compostaparis.fr

But I have discovered that composting in Paris is not outside of the realm of possibility. It isn’t very convenient, by any means, but it exists! In fact, the city of Paris is two years into implementing a city-wide composting initiative.

If you live in the 2nd or 12th arrondissements, you have the privilege of accessing the pilot programs. You can obtain a composting pail and composting bags, and you should be able to find a building nearby with a brown composting bin. For the rest of us, there are still options, but they aren’t quite so convenient. Neighborhood-driven composting programs in local gardens can be found, if you know where to look. These might be a cool community effort to get involved in. In my neighborhood, there is a community garden not too far from the Parc Martin Luther King where I will begin to take my compostable scraps and waste. Until now, I have been collecting my food waste in paper bags in my freezer and throwing them directly into the landfill waste bins for my building rather than into my kitchen garbage, both because of my aversion to smells and so that I can reduce the number of plastic waste bags that I personally generate.

So, the only thing left is to take personal responsibility and actively work towards reducing the amount of plastic and other non-biodegradable landfill waste that we produce in our homes. My goal is to reduce my landfill waste in Paris to one kitchen garbage bag per three months. I’m on week three of that goal as I type this. 

Waste reduction is an important way for people to participate in environmental stewardship. With the mounting threat of global warming, resource depletion, and the generally bleak looking future of our planet, every effort that we as individuals take does make a difference. For my readers who attend the American University of Paris, AUP Green is a campus club dedicated to to creating efficient campus recycling and "Green" activities and is a good starting place to get involved!