France & Sustainability
As a self-proclaimed sustainability aficionado, I was thrilled at the opportunity to write a feature on la France! Each time I see a byline about France, it’s regarding their fantastic strides towards a completely green and sustainable future for their region. I’ve separated these successes into different categories, so follow along with me and read about these incredible accomplishments!
Food is definitely something France is better known for when the image of French cheese and vineyards comes to mind, but France is taking it a step further – putting an end to food waste. Food waste is probably something that no one really considers when tossing away uneaten leftovers or the last bit of dinner that you were too full to finish, but when hundreds of thousands of people do it too, it seriously adds up to a ton of food waste each year. It’s not only in the home–food waste happens in markets, stores, and food sellers.
So how do they reduce so much waste, and enact this behavior throughout the whole country? France has put policies and practices into place that garner a more sustainable system for how unused food is dealt with. Instead of throwing it away, all food is donated. And now that France’s food supply is produced via sustainable practices in their forests, for their soil, and for their water supply, they are truly closing the loop on extinguishing food waste.
A little bit more about France and their sustainable food sources: they are called Urban gardens, and they are flourishing in the green spaces of the region at a rapid pace. Very soon, the rooftops will be taken over with vegetation and “farm-to-table” food. These urban farms are complete with rows of fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, while farm animals roam the space and bees are kept in nearby hives, pollinating flowers free of any toxic substances or pesticides. Yes, France is showing us that it is possible to farm in an urban area using sustainable practices. Alternatives to waste-producing farming are being taken at every turn; for example, hydroponic systems are utilized for food growth, as the water can be recycled.
This is simply another example of how green a city can become if investments are made in its future. Sustainability is possible in any setting, with any practice!
France isn’t just changing the way food is produced and distributed, they are also changing the way people eat. A byline from 2016 states that France is the first country to ban plastic plates and cutlery. This ban will fully go into effect in 2020 and will ban all plastic plates, cups, and cutlery that are not compostable or biodegradable. This stems from another earlier ban of plastic bag use in grocery stores–which can take hundreds of years to biodegrade. Clearly, France is on track for making environmental progress and sustainability one of its main goals.
They are looking to close the sustainability loop, beginning with how things are manufactured and distributed, all the way to disposal via recycling.
Of course, it is encouraged everywhere to carry and utilize a reusable shopping bag, as it makes more sense and diminishes personal plastic bag waste. However, how many people have put a second thought into the disposal of their old and worn clothing and garments?
France thought of it! For individuals going through their closets and packing up garbage bags to donate or to give away to consignment shops, it’s easy. You are giving your clothing a new life! But what happens when those shops are holding onto unsold clothing for months or even years, and they are given the orders to MOS (Mark out of Stock)–usually in larger retailers, this simply, and sadly, means you cut up the unsold clothing and toss it away in the dumpster. After working retail for many years, I know this happens at EVERY clothing store with no way to stop it.
Once again, France is making waves, as they understand that doing this to perfectly good clothing isn’t right. They have placed a ban on shops throwing away unsold clothing. They must instead donate it or recycle it. As stated in their new economic model, “consume and discard” is out, and their “circular economy roadmap” is in. This guarantees a more sustainable outlook for the future of the country–something that France hopes will endure for a very long time.
They haven’t stopped there! I found a very recent article about France unveiling the world’s first 3D-printed home. The team consisted of academics, engineers, and manufacturers, and the shell of the home only took 18 days to print. The walls of the 5-room residence will be filled in with concrete for insulation and equipped with sensors and new technology in order to keep track of temperatures, humidity, and energy use to make it as efficient as possible. This home will also be inhabited permanently–a new family set to move in by June.
This could be the future for multi-residential communities, spaces for low-income families, and even emergency shelters post-disaster.
France has also approved the world’s first ban on fracking. This ban will go into effect by 2040 and will prohibit the exploration and production of all oil and natural gas within France’s mainland and all overseas territories.
Following through with this ban, France hopes to cut down on all of its carbon emissions in the future and to only rely on renewable energy sources.
They have set many renewable targets for the year 2023, and then some. You can read about the finer details here and also check out some charts and graphics on what they plan for their future, paving the way for sustainability!
Keep a lookout for new developments in France as they hit more milestones and achieve more “firsts” than any other nation on the path for sustainability. If this hasn’t inspired you to visit France and check out the strides they have been making in green travel, then maybe this article outlining the greenest ways to travel France will!
Have you been to France and picked up on their eco-friendly habits? Is there another region that is making great strides toward sustainability? Let us know!