I’ve always been one for all things recyclable, reusable, biodegradable. As a child, I used to worry my parents to death about using plastic produce bags in the grocery store, or turning off the water when they brushed their teeth. For a long time, I refused to use plastic film wrap as I felt it was the epitome of the one-use-create-more-garbage routine our society leans so heavily upon. And all this back when blue box recycling pickup and Whole Foods were a thing in our collective distant future.
My little sister, 16 years my junior, has grown up automatically allocating her metal soda cans into one waste reciprocal, her paper in a second and her garbage into yet another. Recycling and composting, as is now locally picking up beside the trash cans and recycling boxes in my mom’s neighborhood, is second nature to her. And I’ve had the distinct pleasure of baring witness to these changes.
We have a compost at the country house here in France, but I don’t have the room for one in our Paris apartment. With all the cooking I do here, I’ve learned ways to waste as little as possible of almost every vegetable out there. I use, for instance, the stock-end of endives and leeks to thicken my stew base or add bulk to my sautéed vegetables when serving a roast chicken.
Nowadays, since I cook so often as compared to my former life, I tend to need the help of the hated plastic wrap to keep my food fresh in the fridge. I’ve come up with the decent – although admittedly not perfect – idea of washing and reusing my saran wrap and tin foil. Rather than ripping off another piece each time I need one, I simple go to my drawer where I keep a box of various sizes of saran wrap, aluminium foil, sandwich baggies and freezer bags. As a result, I have not bought a new supply of any of these products in over two years. The reason this is not a perfect plan, is that with time and various uses, all these products tend to tear and thus must be thrown away eventually. Although, I must admit that I have recently taken to heavily taping my baggies with packing tape in order to give them another round or two. All this, I also must admit drives my husband a little bonkers. He does not feel the same bangs of guilt I do about throwing something away and creating garbage.
I’ve always been a keen believer that each one of us has a great deal of power through our consumer habits to force large companies toward more sustainable business practices. This, I’ve seen work in my life time.
Many companies are now wholly committed to the sustainable movement. Over the last year, my mom has become a staunch supporter of this type of lifestyle as well. And it is from her that I recently received a few new products about which I’m really excited!
First off, my mom discovered this fabulous company that uses reclaimed material to create their goods. My mom sent me a fabulous scarf and a hold-all bag that are completely made from former sweaters. The company is appropriately called Preloved, and I’m proud to say is a Canadian endeavour.
Another great reinvention is small chalk boards for notes and lists. I’ve also seen ones for meals, family agendas, as well as grocery lists. Anything that you would use a one-use piece of paper for but for which you could use a reusable chalk board is an all-around smarter idea.
In her most recent package, my mom sent over these wonderful little reusable tops which work perfectly to cover small ramekins or bowls, as a substitute for saran wrap. They are slightly convex and so once you press them to the top of the bowl you wish to cover the air creates suction that holds the lid in place. Fabulous idea.
Finally, I have to give a nod to Paris, as a city, for introducing not only the Velib rental bikes, but now the Autolib, 100% electric cars ready for use by anyone all throughout the city. As most of us who live in big cities don’t NEED our own cars during the week, the Autolib is a perfect solution. There’s a station just outside my apartment building and I can take it anywhere and once I’m done park it in one of the other stations spread judicially throughout the city. Although a number of critics thought the idea would never stick, after several months of operation in the city, you see Autolibs in Paris as frequently as you do Velibs, that being all the time.