The headquarters of Zero Waste France were already in Paris, so we set up the project close to home. I think zero waste can and should spread all over France, both in cities and in rural areas. Anyone can engage in the movement and propose their own solutions no matter where they are.
Do you have partners abroad? Are you in contact with other zero waste organisations in Europe?
Yes, Zero Waste Europe and the members of its network.
Is Paris a good city for the Zero Waste project?
The city of Paris has publicly stated its willingness to engage in the zero waste project. At the same time, the biggest incinerator in the Parisian region is going to be rebuilt, so there is still a lot of work to be done. It is a good location, however, because there are already many good local dynamics here (associations and services such as repair cafés, reusable nappy shops, composting facilities, clothing rental services, etc). There are a lot of things going on in Paris, many of which are great initiatives, so it’s perfect for creating a virtuous eco-system. On the other hand there are many disadvantages. The city is large and dense so putting things in place can be quite difficult. There is a great heterogeneity between neighbourhoods, there are other priorities, and psychological barriers too. But actually in a way it’s good to be here because if you can do it Paris, you can do it anywhere!
What is your opinion on recycling? Why is it better to produce no waste at all?
Recycling is essential, but we need to understand that it is the end of the chain. The question of recycling arises once waste has already been produced, so it is too late. We need to rethink things so that we can cut waste at the source, and stop producing it.
I get the impression that recycling and composting are sometimes quite difficult to do in Paris. What advice can you give?
For recycling, you have to find out what is recyclable and what isn’t and do it properly. It is not always easy to understand, with the instructions on the packaging, what is written on the bins, what you thought was right and then what the neighbour tells you. You have to find the right information (check your community’s website for example). Composting is of course much easier if you have a garden, but it is far from impossible in the city (vermicomposting at home, community composting in shared gardens or in apartment buildings with your neighbours).
How did you choose the location of the Maison du Zéro Déchet? What is your relationship with the neighbourhood of Montmartre like?
It was a stroke of luck, we had already applied for many other locations and were unsuccessful. I think this place was waiting for us. We are slowly trying to integrate into the neighbourhood (we are looking into collaborating with the bakery – aside from eating its delicious pastries! – the school, and we also work with the Carton Plein association (a relocation service that uses only recycled boxes) which is based in the 18th arrondissement.
How do you see the future of zero waste? Is it more important to change everyday habits or to pressure large companies to improve their fight against pollutants?
The two are not incompatible, on the contrary. It is very important that we change our daily habits for the planet, but especially for ourselves! Who can argue today that the consumption of fast food and fast fashion, putting money in banks that pollute on the other side of the world or throwing away everything you buy is beneficial? Or that it is aligned with our values? I think our brains are half asleep, and when you decide to wake up and change your way of life and move to zero waste for example, you start thinking about what you really want and it feels incredibly good! You finally align your values with your actions and it is very beneficial for your motivation, the environment and the economy. Of course big companies have to change but let’s not forget that their ultimate goal is profit, not the well-being of citizens or the preservation of the environment. As long as we do not put pressure on them, they will have no reason to change. And what better way to pressure them than with our money? We are the masters of what we consume, it is up to us to choose what we want to support!
3 Rue Charles Nodier
Photo by Stefano Borghi