Consumption, Ethical Choices, Life in Paris, Reflection

I Read : Green, Greener, Greenest

“A Practical Guide to Making Eco-Smart Choices a Part of Your Life” by Lori Bongiorno

Bongiorno is a journalist who has written for a number of years on environmental issues. I wanted to read her book because I’m looking for practical applications of environmental awareness, as opposed to just the crushing knowledge that we’re doing likely irreparable damage to the planet. Her story is very personal, and she was drawn to this kind of research and writing after her husband died following a battle with cancer.

This was a really quick read for a ~300 page book, and while many parts of it were unhelpful for someone living in Europe, I would recommend it to American readers. She provides small, medium, and large (green, greener, greenest) steps toward changing your consumption in 10 main areas of life.

A lot of her advice would be more relevant to someone who has control over modifying their home, but I really appreciated that she works through a lot of the labels commonly used to market a wide spectrum “natural” products.

The section on Energy and Water conservation helped motivate us to change out our traditional light bulbs for LED where we could, and to research future options for LED bulbs when we couldn’t. I learned a bit about lumens (brightness) and kelvin (the temperature of the light), and what would work best in our home.

The food section also prompted another trip to our local market, but this time with a very critical eye. We usually shop at any one of the 5 grocery stores or the Co-Ops in our neighbourhood or near my internship. That’s due in large part to the fact that we almost always sleep through the Sunday market! This week, we made an effort to get up and bring our reusable bags with us.

While I did see authentic Petit Bateau shirts (one of my favourite pre-ethical commitment brands) selling for 1/3 of their price, I didn’t see a ton of French produce. E is a chef, and he echoed the sentiment. Almost all of the vendors were selling imported produce, and those that weren’t had lines that wrapped around and around their section of the market.

We left the market empty handed, because frankly, we’re looking to prioritise local food and get to know a supplier. Once I finish my sustainability research on Petit Bateau, though, I might have to go back for one of those shirts…

The final section that I really enjoyed was “The 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” While it’s not as reduction focused as I’d like it to be, it prompted me to reflect on other ways that I can think about reusing goods that I no longer need or want. Compared to the US, France has a limited recycling system and many plastics are not reused. I’m brainstorming ways to either cut these plastics out (very difficult) or to figure out how to give them a second life myself.




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