Rue 89 has two interesting articles on waste management which are worth checking out, particularly in view of France’s pitiful showing in the Reader’s Digest survey in terms of its ecological footprint – 133rd out of 141 countries. According to the ADEME, household waste is increasing at an annual rate of 1-2 percent and currently stands at an annual average of 350 kilos per person. Of that total, only 20 percent is recycled and the rest is buried or incinerated. France lags behind many OECD countries in this domain, notably Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Sweden, which have all introduced a “Pay as you throw” tax, whereby citizens are taxed on the basis of the quantity of non-recycled trash they generate. In Belgium, this tax helped to slash trash generation from 369 kilos per person annually to 115 kilos. This type of system exists in fewer than 20 communes in France for the moment, most of them in the east of France where the proximity of countries like Germany and Switzerland have provided an inspiration.
In a separate article, rue 89 provides tips on how to reduce your trash, and advises that these simple gestures should become automatic reflexes.
1. put “no junk mail” stickers on the mail box. You can purchase these online at Achat Nature, theyr’e called “Stop Pub” stickers
2. stop buying or accepting anything that is disposable: plastic bags, paper plates, plastic cups, and disposable wipes.
3. avoid over-packaged items – buy in bulk whenever possible and try to get refills.
4. drink tap water. Consumption of bottled water has doubled in France in the last two decades and generates an average of 6 kilos of plastic bottles per person every year.
5. buy products which include recycled materials: look for the NF Environnement label and European Ecolabels
6. choose products with a long life span – rechargeable batteries etc.
7. try to extend the life span of appliances for as long as possible by learning to repair and renovate stuff.