Community in France: Going Green

I hear a lot of people talking about “Going Green”. Have you heard this phrase before? President Obama wants us to “Go Green” and so does the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg. In fact, all over the planet people are talking about “going green”. What does it mean to “go green”? Does it mean that you wear green or you use things that are green? What else could it mean?

The phrase “Go Green!” is a message. The message is for the world community to save the greenery (our environment) and the limited resources we have! It is a call to act more mindfully and live in a way that does not damage and pollute our environment.

That might sound like a lot of information, but I bet you know more about the environment than you think! For example, I bet you know about recycling and I bet you would never pour a chemical like gasoline into the ocean. Phewy! Everyone knows that is no bueno!

World Environmental Day is coming up soon! It will be celebrated on June 5th. It is a day for people all around the world to come together an be Environment Champions. People will talk about all sorts of important ways to “Go Green” on that day.

I decided to interview some local people in France to learn more about the issues they will talk about for World Environment Day. I learned about how they recycle here and how they address solid waste management, or trash collection, in their communities. They told me about the Three Rs. They are Reduce, Reuse and Recycle! Do you know about the three Rs? Let’s learn more!

What community need did I learn about?

In my interview with local people I realized a burning problem for the whole world – trash! All over the planet, in every country and in every community people are struggling to find a solution for how we handle our trash, and especially the trash that we cannot recycle. This is where the Three R’s become important.

One of the major challenges is plastic. Plastic does not break down, like an apple core or even a newspaper. It lasts for thousands and thousands of years. If you imagine that everyone one of the seven billion people on the planet used one shopping bag a day,  that would be 365 days times seven billion people worth of plastic bags in one year alone! Sadly, people use more than one bag a day. Plastic water bottles are also a big problem. You can do the same math and see that quite quickly we are covering our planet in plastic waste! That might not sound too bad to you because we are doing a great job of taking it away from our cities in the U.S. and hiding it in landfills. A lot of this ends up in the oceans though and animals are eating little plastic pieces instead of their normal food. Animals cannot live on plastic. People can’t eat animals that eat plastic either. It is a big problem. So, the first R is REDUCE. That means we must reduce or use less plastic.

Though French people have accepted the fact that environmental problems are getting worse like people in all other countries, they are anxious to find out their solutions. Do you have any solutions Environment Champion? The French Government has implemented certain measures and they should be pretty applicable throughout the world.  Shopping malls do not give free bags to the shoppers so people reduce their usage. This also encourages people to follow the second R – REUSE. We can easily reuse the plastic products we have, instead of just throwing them away and getting a new one. So, next time you go to the store, ask your mom or dad if you can take a bag from home. You can be an Environment Champion!

Why does community have this need?

Humans have developed the planet to be a very special place, for humans. We have a special way of sharing our inventions and the things we like with each other, no matter where we live. So, whether you are in France or in the United States, in Brazil or in Thailand, you can find all sorts of common products. To preserve these products during shipping (from where they were made to where they are sold) humans decided that plastic was the best wrapper. So, foods, clothes, computers and toys, not to mention everything else is usually wrapped in plastic. Plastic does have a lot of special qualities and can help to preserve and protect things, but it doesn’t go away when we are done with it. Not only that, only a small amount of plastic is able to be recycled. For example, when your shoes get too worn out for you to wear, you most likely think of them as trash. Did you ever think about where they go? The soles of your shoes are plastic. They may not be good for walking or anything else, but they will stay on the planet for thousands of years.

One solution is to think differently about what we call trash. When we say we are throwing something “away” we need to think about where “away” might be. Is it in a landfill, in the ocean, in outer-space?! No matter where we throw our trash it is certainly not going “away”. Our trash is here to stay. So, start being an Enviroment Hero today – REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE!

Is this need being met? How?

There are other problems with pollution that are harder for us to fix. One example is the way that we get our electricity. Humans love lights! We like to use the Internet every day, all day! All of that takes electricity and we are using more every day! There are different ways to make electricity. One of the safest ways is from the sun, using solar energy. Solar panels are an invention that can change the way we make energy into a cleaner and safer way.

France produces about 80 percent of its electricity through nuclear energy. Considered a world leader in the technology, the country has 58 nuclear power plants. All of these power plants produce pollution in the form of toxic smoke. Today the government taking different measures to get rid of that smoke coming out of those industries and to keep the environment clean it has started growing more trees. Did you know that trees are natural filters?! Humans breathe the oxygen filtered by the trees in our environment that are taking in carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. In this way, animals and plants support each other on planet Earth.

In France, the government has rules to help businesses “Go Green”. Many hotels in France, do not offer more than a single towel, one hand napkin and two rolls of toilet paper per person. Moreover, they emphasize you to save the plastic water bottles which you ordered from the hotel. Most restaurants and hotels serve water in glass bottles and prefer to give you reusable glass cups.

Moreover, they have company called Suez Environment for the collection of door to door bulky garbage, refuse and hazardous waste. Public recycling bins were added to the neighbourhoods where there are the most people. These include places like outside several subway stations, food centres, bus interchanges and airport terminals.

During my interview with local friends, we concluded that they use recycled water bottles, toilet papers and plastic bags. Moreover, they try to send e-cards and e-messages on the special occasions instead of wasting paper. Moreover, they carry their own bags to shopping centres for buying veggies and grocery.

Thus, if all of us Reduce, Reuse and Recycle we can all be Environment Champions!



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