Every change starts with oneself. That’s why, in this article, you will find advice, tips, recipes and food for thought around your personal practice of zero waste at home.
De-cluttering is the first step before going any further. Once this step has been taken, I invite you to get down to business in the strategic room, the one that generates the most waste on a daily basis: the kitchen.
Cleaning products being an important source of waste and endocrine disruptors, I also offer recipes for natural cleaning products.
I then invite you to repeat the operation on a smaller scale in the bathroom. At this point, you will have already done a hell of a job!
So why stop on such a good path? Open wide the doors of your dressing room and go slow fashion. Go green, even for the holidays.
Even your pet can accompany you in this ecological transition!
Before beginning any change in your life, you must learn to detach yourself from the past that is cluttering up your life. Our homes are often filled with objects, clothes or toys that we no longer need – or are no longer even fit to use. This overflow overloads our spaces, but also and above all our minds.
Learn how to separate – and how to do it in an environmentally friendly way! – from everything that clutters up your life to make way for a simpler, more organized, more responsible lifestyle.
The vacuum cleaning, you probably know. You already do it every year during the traditional “spring cleaning”. Who has never felt this well-being after having cleaned, tidied or sorted their home? Even on a small scale, just tidying a drawer or a desk brings a real feeling of joy and serenity.
Of course, you want to keep your child’s cuddly toy as a teenager, but is it really worth keeping the tureen that Aunt Gertrude gave you ten years ago and that you never used? What about the size 36 jeans you haven’t fit into since you turned 18?
Like you, I said to myself: “You never know, it might come in handy one day…”. And so we find ourselves lost under a mass of useless objects that eat up more and more space and literally clutter our minds.
So we will have to learn to say goodbye to the useless and gain both serenity and precious square meters, and why not a few euros by making some happy?
If this first step paralyzes you, know that professionals can help you. The profession of de-cluttering coach is booming and there are more and more books on the subject.
THE KONMARI METHOD
Marie Kondo is the author of the KonMari method, a Japanese consultant in storage and de-cluttering. Based on her experience, she has written a best-selling book, La Magie du rangement1, which explains why and how we must learn to love or let go of what we own. Her storage method is based on the following principles:
Objects must be considered as living beings. By doing so, you can give them the attention they deserve. This allows you to evaluate which objects give you pleasure – and keep them – or which objects are of no importance to you (or bring back bad memories) – and then part with them.
To begin, choose a room or piece of furniture and place all its contents on the floor in the center of the room. Then you classify by category. This trick is ideal for teaching your children to put away their toys: books in one bin, small cars in another, stuffed animals in this one and wooden toys in that one.
When you are about to get rid of an object, Marie Kondo advises you to thank it for its services and to say goodbye. This may seem a little special, yet objects have a significant sentimental dimension in our lives. The example of Baby’s clothes that you no longer need, but that you find difficult to part with, explains this emotional value.
Once you have decided what to keep, you now need to showcase and treat them properly by cleaning and airing them regularly.
Finally, the clothes storage technique presented by Marie Kondo is quite spectacular. It offers an important space saving and makes her entire wardrobe accessible. Finished the sweater stored in the back of the closet, which you had forgotten existed!
The primordial step: sorting!
Sorting is usually the longest and least engaging. We find it hard to get started, and when we finally do, a lot of memories resurface, or our fear of “missing” takes over if we finally need that object in the near or distant future. To part with an object, no matter how small and useless it may be, is difficult. We must approach this sorting with patience, calm and rationality (no, but, really, will you ever need that duck-shaped bottle opener when you already have one – a real one – in the kitchen drawer?), and mourn the objects we part with. It is not just a material sorting, it is also an emotional sorting, which will lead, trust me on this point, to a better well-being, both material and psychological.
But let’s move on to the practical aspect of sorting: how to proceed?
Get four boxes :
- > In the first one, you will deposit what you absolutely want to keep.
- > In the second one, you will put what you want to give.
- > In the third, you will place what you want to sell.
- > In the fourth will go what you are obliged to throw away because it is impossible to repair, give or get back.
First box : I keep
The first box is the easiest to fill: it contains the items you want to keep… for now.
This box of objects that you are not ready to part with is important: you have to clear out the clutter, it’s true, but not at the risk of feeling lost in this new space without any landmarks. So you know that this cardboard exists and that you can keep it for as long as you feel the need for it.
Do not store it in the garage or basement, so as not to forget it or have difficulty accessing it, as this box represents, for the time being, emotional security. Store it in a closet – which will be much more spacious when you’ve finished uncluttering – and don’t hesitate to put it back in whenever you feel like it.
Second card : I give
Place in the second box all the objects you decide to donate; this implies that they are in relatively good condition, in any case usable and not broken (or repaired). Don’t forget that what may seem useless or unsightly to you may be of service to someone else or find favor in their eyes. Do you think no one will want your old, outdated, fifteen-year-old yogurt maker? Wrong! More and more people want to try their hand at homemade yogurt but, for fear of not succeeding or not using it enough, they don’t want to invest in a new €100 yogurt maker. Yours is therefore quite likely to interest them!
Think as much as possible about giving away objects you no longer want, rather than throwing them away and thus generating waste.
Where to give?
If you cannot or do not wish to sell (because the amount you would get out of it would be too small, you are short of time or you wish to give to those who need it without making a profit), have the Emmaus reflex! Just about anything can be donated, as long as it is still usable and in relatively good condition: clothes, furniture, toys, books, household appliances, plumbing, mechanics, haberdashery, crockery… You can also take everything to a recycling or resource centre: you can drop off your miscellaneous items there free of charge, and they will sort them out and give them a second life. More information on www.ressourcerie.fr ; you will find the recycling centers near you in the directory or by typing “recyclerie [name of your city]” in your Internet search engine.
Here are some other tips on where and what to give.
Clothing, household linen, textiles of all kinds
- > If your clothes are in good condition but you don’t want to sell them, you can give them to organizations or associations in your commune (retirement homes, reintegration centers, young women’s homes, etc.) whose budgets are limited and who are always happy to receive clothing, but also furniture, toys, books, etc.
- > You can also bring them to national organizations such as Emmaus, mentioned above, the Red Cross, the Restos du Coeur, Secours catholique, Secours populaire, etc.
Cultural objects (books, CDs, DVDs, video games)
- > Here again, do not hesitate to donate your objects free of charge to aid organizations or associations; it is not because they are not “basic necessities” that they cannot bring a better well-being to the most disadvantaged.
- > Libraries and media libraries often gladly take back books, magazines, DVDs, games, etc.
- > For your books, there are also alternative solutions, such as book boxes, which are starting to appear in some cities (open access boxes in the street where you can drop off and pick up books for free). You can also register your book on sites such as www.liberezleslivres.com or www.bookcrossing.com, and then “release” it anywhere (i.e., drop it off anywhere you like so that someone can pick it up and discover it for free). The person who finds it will be able to find out where it came from thanks to a tracking number inside the book. A nice 100% zero waste idea to make your books travel!
- > Daycare centers or childcare assistants can pick up second-hand toys or childcare (in rather good condition, however!).
- > Also think of your neighbors or relatives: young parents are generally happy to get back equipment or children’s things that are often expensive to buy and most often in very good condition.
Furniture, television, household appliances, crockery, computer equipment, lighting fixtures
- > Emmaus recovers furniture and household appliances as long as they are still in working order. They can even collect them directly from your home.
Third box : I sell
Selling rather than throwing away is fine; you just need to know how to do it.
Several solutions exist depending on the type of objects you want to get rid of.
Where to sell?
Clothing, household linen and textiles of all kinds
- > Secondhand goods.
- > Vide-dressing: the website www.vide-dressing.org lists all the vide-dressing events organized in France (as well as in certain cantons and provinces of Switzerland and Belgium), classified by department/region.
- > Facebook: there are many general reseller groups on Facebook. Type “sale” or “second hand” + the name of your town or department in the search field of the site, and you will find a multitude of second hand resale groups near you. By doing a search with the keyword “vide-dressing”, you will find buying and selling groups dedicated to fashion clothing and accessories.
- > Sites specialized in the purchase and sale of second-hand clothing: www.roseindigo.com(children’s clothing from birth to 12 years old), www.colorissimomes.fr (children’s clothing, childcare and mother-to-be), www.vinted.fr, www.videdressing.com, www.luckyfind.fr…
- > www.mytroc.fr offers you to barter online everything you own for hazelnuts (the fictitious currency of the site). You will then be able to exchange these hazelnuts for something you need (the sections are very varied!).
Cultural objects (books, CDs, DVDs, video games)
- > Garage sales: the website www.vide-greniers.org lists all the garage sales organized every week in France, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg.
- > General second-hand stores like Easy Cash or Cash Express: they buy what you sell and pay you cash (hence their name), then take care of reselling it with a margin.
- > Websites for buying and selling second-hand, including – the most well-known – www.rakuten.com(the buyer pays Rakuten, who then pays you; buying and selling are therefore secure) and www.leboncoin.fr, a site for person-to-person ads (its great interest is that you can post a free ad in just a few clicks and that the site does not take any commission on sales).
- > www.momox.fr buys all your cultural products from you at prices that vary according to supply, demand and market prices. Once you have reached a minimum of 30 objects for resale to them, they provide you with a pick-up paper for shipment. You will not have to pay anything.
Furniture, television, household appliances, crockery, computer equipment, lighting fixtures
- > Second-hand stores (Easy Cash, Cash Express).
- > Sales deposits: you leave your objects and you will only get the money if they are sold. Otherwise, you can recover them or leave them permanently at the sales depot.
- > Le Bon Coin (www.leboncoin.fr) remains the reference for the sale of second-hand articles.
- > There are garage sales especially dedicated to childcare; they are also called “toy markets” (to find some near you: www.vide-greniers.org).
- > Once again, Facebook buying and reselling groups will be your friends! Type “sale toys” or “second-hand childcare” + the name of your town or department in the search field, for example.
- > And, always, www.leboncoin.fr, as well as www.colorissimomes.fr.
Fourth cardboard : I throw away
When you de-clutter your home, it’s easy to end up with anything and everything to throw away. However, not everything is thrown away in the same place. Remember that everything you put in your “normal” garbage can will either be incinerated (which implies air pollution) or buried (which implies soil pollution).
So try, as far as possible, to dispose of objects that are no longer usable in an intelligent way, which of course starts with a rigorous sorting according to the type of waste you want to get rid of. See here to dispose of in an eco-responsible way.
If you have the slightest doubt, do not hesitate to contact the town hall of your commune.
Several websites can also provide you with information: those of your commune, your sorting center or your general council; the www.ecoemballages.fr website, where you can learn all about sorting and recycling.
Once this first big sorting has been done, you will soon realize that you can’t wait to start again! Personally, I take advantage of the spring cleaning to do a de-cluttering every year. And each time, I find new objects to give, to sell or to recycle.
Fortunately, once the de-cluttering process begins, it becomes rare to make unnecessary new purchases. Without even realizing it, you will quickly get into the habit of thinking twice before acquiring any new item!
Repeat these four de-cluttering steps for each room in the house, not forgetting your dressing room, the entrance closet, the garage, the garden shed, the attic, etc. Believe me: almost everything can be sold or given away, much better than you can imagine… sometimes even if it is broken or damaged; if you don’t try anything, you won’t get rid of the clutter!
Where to throw?
If it’s really neither saleable nor in good enough condition to be donated, here are some ways to dispose of it in an eco-responsible way.
Clothing, household linen and textiles of all kinds
- > If your clothes are worn, punctured or stained, you cannot sell or give them away. Do not throw them in the garbage! You will find Le Relais textile containers everywhere in France (more info on www.lerelais.org), often near shopping malls, parking lots, garbage dumps or other strategic points in your city. Textiles that can be used as they are are resold at low prices in Le Relais’ Ding Fring stores or for export, thus promoting the employment of people in situations of exclusion or in developing regions, to fight against poverty. Textiles that cannot be sold are recycled in the production of wiping cloths for industry or for the manufacture of insulating materials used in the building industry. The remainder will be diverted as far as possible into energy recovery. In thirty years, more than 2,200 jobs have been created by the various actions of the Relais network.
- > www.lafibredutri.fr gives you lots of tips on how to give your used clothes and shoes a second life, and if they are too damaged, how to sort them and drop them off at appropriate collection points near you.
Cultural objects (books, CDs, DVDs, video games)
- > If they are in too bad condition, you can throw them away, but be careful to sort them (see page below).
- > www.momox.fr offers you to recycle all the cultural products they don’t want to buy from you, but which you no longer want. All you have to do is send them in the same box as what you sell them.
Furniture, television, household appliances, crockery, computer equipment, lighting fixtures
- ✓Si your products are too damaged or broken down and you really can’t get them repaired, you absolutely have to go through the waste box.
Starting to sort waste
Start by asking your town hall for the sorting guide for your municipality, if you have not already received it with your garbage cans.
Then, learn how to sort according to the color of the different garbage cans at your disposal, according to the guide provided. For example, in some municipalities, cardboard and plastic will go in the same garbage can; in others, they will be sorted in two different garbage cans.
Remember these basic principles:
- > In the sorting bin: paper (including newspapers and magazines, without their plastic packaging), cardboard (cartons of incoming parcels stripped of their labels and tape, boxes of cereal, cakes, etc.), cardboard (cartons of incoming parcels with their labels and tape removed, boxes of cereal, cakes, etc.), cardboard (cartons of incoming parcels with their labels and tape removed, boxes of cereal, cakes, etc.).), steel and aluminium packaging (cans, aerosols, cans, etc.), food cartons, plastic bottles and flasks closed with their caps (water, juice, milk, shower gel, shampoo, washing-up liquid, edible oil, etc.).
- > In the glass container: all glass containers, such as bottles, jars, jars… (but not crockery, earthenware and porcelain, which are not recycled). However, remember to remove the cap or lid and put it in the sorting garbage can.
This involves pre-sorting at home by installing several garbage cans, bags or boxes in your kitchen. For people who live in the city and/or in a small apartment, this is not always easy, but it is a necessary organization to make your task easier and therefore persevere in your efforts without fear of getting discouraged.
Personally, I have two garbage cans (one for residual waste that I absolutely can’t sort and one for anything that is recyclable), and a crate for glass. I then have to sort again in front of the communal garbage cans, it’s true, but I prefer this system rather than having 3 or 4 different garbage cans in my house.
It’s up to you to find the organization that suits you best and that will make your life easier. The goal is to make this new habit fit easily into your daily life, so that it is not a constraint that weighs on you, but an automatic reflex just like doing the dishes or tidying up your groceries.
Don’t force yourself to empty your recyclables every day: it would quickly become cumbersome and your days are full enough as it is! Plan to go once a week, if it corresponds to your waste production (or twice a week if your glass box or your sorting bag really overflows): it’s more than enough, and much less restrictive!
As for your glass bottles, remember to empty them well before putting them in your recycling box or bag; the residues of alcohol, beer, juice, etc.., attract all sorts of undesirables (such as snails, slugs, rodents, maggots…), not to mention the fact that they can sink to the bottom of your bag or box and give you a nasty surprise when you put them in the glass container (sticky bottles, leaking bag, stains on the floor of your car…).
In bins made of cardboard, paper, aluminum, glass, make sure that what you throw in is well rid of any material that would not be recyclable. For example: the tape on the cardboard of your packages, the cap of your glass bottle of apple juice, the plastic packaging of your magazines. On the other hand, when you throw a package in the garbage, make sure that you don’t throw recyclable parts with it: for example, the cardboard inside the plastic wrapping of your cakes!
What about other waste?
For more bulky waste, the best solution remains the waste disposal center of your municipality. For this, you will probably have to ask for a resident’s card in order to access it for free (ask your town hall). Thanks to this card, you will be able to deposit all bulky or hardly recyclable objects (wood, metal, household appliances, large cardboard boxes, furniture, etc.), if of course you have not been able to find a second wind by selling or giving them away! Warning: make sure you are well informed about the functioning of your waste collection center, it is not impossible that you are limited to a certain amount of waste per week or month.
- > Used batteries and light bulbs (including neon lights) do not go in the trash! Drop them off at a dedicated collection site near you: all businesses selling batteries and light bulbs (supermarkets, electronics, appliance or DIY stores, etc.) must offer collection bins for used batteries and light bulbs. You will also find them in town halls and at waste disposal centers. The website www.jerecyclemespiles.com helps you find collection points (for batteries and light bulbs) in your municipality. You can also entrust your used bulbs to your electrician, who regularly goes to his supplier and can drop them off for you.
- > Toxic waste (paints, solvents and solvents, acids, stain removers, mechanical oils, batteries, electrical appliances, etc.) and waste resulting from major works (rubble, cement…) do not go into the conventional dustbin! Go to your local waste disposal center.
- > Printer cartridges: many organizations and associations take them back (free of charge or sometimes even buy them from you) in order to fill them up and give them a second life. Type “ink cartridge recycling” in your Internet search engine, or go to your nearest office or computer store. Some small convenience stores are also doing it! In any case, don’t throw them in the trash.
- > Drugs and used medical equipment do not get thrown away! Simply bring them back, without their packaging (which you will have sorted, of course), to your pharmacy, which will dispose of them in accordance with health regulations. (Used medical equipment that is sharp or cutting – needles, scalpels, syringes – must be brought back in a specific container; ask your pharmacist).
Minimalism is a thumbnail to our consumer society, centered on the accumulation of material goods. First of all, it tends towards a reduction in consumption. Then towards a reduction of possessions. Until we arrive at a reduction in the hold of society on oneself and one’s life.
“Minimalism is the idea of living with what is necessary: putting some thought back into your purchases and possessions, buying less for ecological, economic and practical reasons, getting rid of the superfluous,” says Florence Mary, author of the book Less Things, More Me! 2 and creator of the blog www.theflonicles.be.
For this book, she agreed to give us her vision of minimalism.
THE TESTIMONY OF FLORENCE MARY
There are several ways of living “minimalistically”. Bea Johnson, one of the instigators of the zero waste movement, proposes a way of life where we surround ourselves only with the bare necessities and where we bring as few objects as possible into our homes. She also advocates second-hand shopping and emphasizes the practical side of things. For Marie Kondo, who has popularized “de-cluttering” in recent years, minimalism is a philosophy of beauty that invites us to own less, but only objects that bring us joy. Minimalism began to be mediatized in the early 2010’s. Today, there are many followers, at different levels, and a multitude of books and blogs on the subject. This current is intensifying with the rise of light habitats (tiny houses, yurts, converted vans…), as well as new lifestyles, such as digital nomadism or FIRE (financial independence and early retirement).
There are many reasons to try a more minimalist life. From an ethical and ecological point of view, consuming fewer objects and putting unused ones back into the second-hand circuit reduces the demand for new products. The manufacture, transportation and distribution of consumer products are resource-intensive and generate pollution, so every purchase should be carefully considered. On a more personal level, owning and buying less also means spending less time maintaining one’s home and therefore more time enjoying life and one’s loved ones. It’s also a great way to save money, of course! In short, minimalism means more time, money and energy in your hands!
Florence Mary’s major steps to becoming a minimalist
The first step is de-cluttering: taking stock of what we own and sorting it allows us to become aware of our purchasing behaviors and to rectify them in order to reach our objectives.
-On a daily basis, take the time to think about each acquisition (even when it’s free!) before making it: do you really need this object? What will it bring you? What constraints will it bring with it? Did you really need or want it before you had it in front of you? Make a list of the things you would like to buy, and let at least a week go by before doing it: often, you will realize that it was only a passing fancy, and therefore that the object was not necessary for you!
-Do you often go shopping out of idleness? Think about an activity (art workshop, sport, going out, people to see, series to watch…) for which you never have enough time, and convert your shopping time into pleasure time and zero guilt. Shopping doesn’t have to be a hobby or a pastime anymore, there are so many better ways to enjoy your free time!
Living in Tiny House
Turning to a simpler and more autonomous consumption mode leads to investing in smaller, but also more functional spaces. This is the case of the Tiny House, the new ecological and minimalist trend, at the antipodes of the archetype of the large house with garden. This is the type of habitat chosen by Bea Johnson.
A Tiny House, what is it?
A Tiny House is a small house, often between 15 and 30 m². Built with environmentally friendly materials, it is mostly wood-frame construction and offers all modern conveniences, including electricity, heating and drinking water. Although often positioned on a definitive plot of land, this small house, with optimized space, has wheels and can therefore be moved easily.
What is the interest of a Tiny House?
Finally, there are many advantages to investing in a Tiny House. But the vast majority of those who took the plunge had a minimalist approach and wanted to focus on the essentials.
A Tiny House costs much less than an apartment of the same size! The average budget is 30 000 €. And if you build it yourself, 20 000 € may be enough. As far as taxes are concerned, you are also a winner, because since the house is mobile, it is subject to the same regulations as motor homes or caravans, i.e. an annual tax of €150. No property tax or housing tax, a great saving! And maintenance costs (roof, windows, plumbing, etc.) are obviously proportional to the size of the house, so much less. Finally, the possible nomadic nature of the Tiny House gives it a freedom that standard real estate doesn’t have: you are free to travel, with no additional costs or increase your ecological footprint.
Much more than a (im)movable possession, a Tiny House is a way of life that reduces its ecological impact. It requires fewer resources than a traditional home and consumes very little. It can even be autonomous if it is equipped with solar panels and a rainwater recovery system. This minimalist lifestyle choice goes hand in hand with a reduction in waste. It is clear that in a Tiny House, the ecological footprint is really reduced to a minimum!
What about comfort?
This is the only reproach that one would be tempted to make to him. With so little space, can we really enjoy the same interior comfort as a classic house? Well, yes and no. In fact, you have to rethink your comfort. In a smaller home with outdoor space, the time spent indoors is less than that spent in a traditional house. The needs are simplified and these small houses meet them. Everything is there: bed(s), sofa, table, kitchen, bathroom, toilet… And designers compete with each other in imagination to propose clever storage systems. In conclusion, a Tiny House offers the same type of comfort as a standard home, but in a more concentrated way. And, above all, in a more ingenious and practical way. So it’s good for everything!
If you are tempted by the adventure, I invite you to read the testimony of Mylène and Thibaut on the Collectif Tiny House3 website.
SAY STOP OVER-CONSUMPTION
Now that your interior is sorted, emptied, tidied, organized, minimized, don’t let anything unwelcome in anymore. This implies a certain vigilance on your part.
Beware of compulsive purchases to respond to a frustration, an unhappiness, a whim of the moment, and the sirens of marketing, whose sole purpose is to make us buy a product, whether we need it or not.
To avoid finding ourselves once again assailed by objects that are of little use in our daily lives, I recommend the BISOU method proposed by Marie Duboin and Herveline Giraudeau, bloggers and authors of the book L’abus de consommation responsable rend heureux (The abuse of responsible consumption makes you happy!). 4
THE KISSING METHOD
Marie Duboin and Herveline Giraudeau, first shared their lifestyle around deconsumerism and ethical consumption on their respective blogs : La salade à tout5 and Sortez de vos conaps6. 6 Then they created the Facebook group Gestion budgétaire, entraide et minimalisme, in which more than 167,000 unicorns can be found to date. Unicorns are people who help each other to save money while becoming responsible consumers.
To achieve this, Marie and Herveline created the BISOU method. They kindly accepted to talk to us about it.
The BISOU method is a set of five questions to ask yourself when you feel like buying something!
These questions will broadly cover all aspects of your consumption and help you make the right choice:
B for Need: What need does this purchase fulfill in my home?
Be careful not to misunderstand: the question is not: “Do I need it? “» ! With this question, we are going to dive into the depths of our psycho-affective needs: vast program!
We’re talking about the need for self-esteem, recognition, comfort…
It is, for example, the famous “buy a cuddly toy” after a bad day, expensive gifts to make up for it, etc…
I for Immediacy: Do I need it immediately?
Immediacy being the best friend of compulsive buying, we advise you to note any desire to buy on a wish list and to come back to it 15 days later.
Very often, by postponing our purchases, the desire fades or even disappears!
S for Similar: Do I have a similar object?
It can be an object that we already have, or that can be obtained in another way: by renting, bartering, donation, loan between neighbors, etc.
O for Origin: What is the origin of this object?
What is its ecological and human impact on animals?
Did it cross the globe to get to me (hello carbon footprint!), was it manufactured under ethical conditions, is there an impact on my health?
U for Useful: Will this object be useful to me?
It is good to remember to ask ourselves this question in a world where our comfort has never been so high, which we tend to forget!
We can, for example, wonder about the real added value of this object in our daily life. Are we going to use it every day or only once a year?
Let’s not forget this: the BISOU method is an analysis grid of our consumption and there are no right or wrong answers, good or bad choices, good or bad needs.
The way we consume is really personal and depends on our habits, our personal history, our psychological state at the time of purchase, our values. And that is why using this method makes us happy!
The BISOU method allows us to “freeze on image”, to settle down and observe our behaviors, to know ourselves better, and thus to better meet our needs, without necessarily going through a purchase act, which never brings us happiness in the long term.
It makes us actors of our choices and leads us to embody our core values.
In short: don’t be fooled by its funny little name, applying the BISOU method can be a revolution in the way you consume, and even in your life!
Le Stop Pub
Over-consumption is a bad habit that we can learn to control and decrease. But there are other elements that we can remove from our homes to avoid generating waste and polluting our minds.
Starting with the flyers, advertisements and free newspapers that fill our mailboxes daily. For this, a simple and symbolic gesture: put a STOP PUB on your mailbox.
31 kg per year per household
This is the weight of the unsolicited printed matter deposited in our mailboxes. Nationally, this represents more than 800,000 tons of flyers distributed and thrown away per year7. On the ecologie-solidaire.gouv website, you will find the STOP PUB sticker to download, print and stick on your mailbox. Thanks to this device we were more than 9 million to say STOP to unsolicited advertisements between 2004 and 2008. Ten years later, I can only rejoice to see 8 out of 10 mailboxes displaying this militant sticker.
How to make respect its advertising stop?
Unfortunately, this sticker does not stop some distributors, who continue to flood mailboxes with their advertisements. But Zero Waste France is watching out and proposes different actions to enforce the STOP PUB. In particular, the association provides a standard letter to be sent to the retailer concerned8.
If you receive an advertisement from a merchant, return it to the sender or call the number indicated.
Most of the time, retailers use distribution companies. To find them, just type in your search engine “advertising distribution” + the name of your city. You can then contact them to ask them to stop.
Your calls were not answered? Get down to business by sending a registered letter with your contact information, the dates of unsolicited distribution, the signs involved and, above all, a reminder of the law.
You can also use social networks to call on distribution companies and retailers for the catalogs they distribute. It’s even more efficient!
TO GO TO ZERO WASTE IN MY KITCHEN
The kitchen is the central and strategic room of the zero waste approach. Indeed, it is in this room that we generate the most waste. This waste comes, for the most part, from our over-packaged food shopping. The kitchen is therefore the place where you will be able to make the most changes and especially win the biggest battles. Not only the groceries, but also the stoves and the freezer!
This central piece has another advantage, it will allow you to understand a large number of ecological issues, directly related to the current climate change. But let’s start at the beginning.
To win your first victory, you will have to follow the 4 commandments of ecological racing.
THE 4 COMMANDMENTS OF ECOLOGICAL RACING
First source of waste, shopping! To drastically reduce the weight of our trash cans, but also our carbon footprint, we need to review the way we source our supplies. This starts by buying in bulk, organic, seasonal and local.
Here’s how and why.
Bulk, the solution against packaging
To shop in bulk is to buy products and foodstuffs without packaging. This includes fruit and vegetables as well as dry products such as pasta, flour or cakes, but also cleaning products or cosmetics.
Today, the supply of bulk products has expanded beyond the specialty stores. Now, several big-box retailers are showing their good resolutions: since March 2019, the Carrefour brand accepts containers in all its stores; Leclerc offers everyday products without plastic packaging; and Auchan has developed its organic and conventional bulk offer.
All these initiatives are obviously welcome, as they help to raise awareness of the possibility of buying in bulk. With one drawback: the supermarkets’ economic model – offering ever lower prices thanks to unfair commercial practices towards producers, who are sometimes forced to sell at a loss – is far removed from the zero waste philosophy.
Here are some alternatives to supermarkets to find bulk.
Bulk networks in France
In just a few years, the supply of bulk products has exploded in France. And so much the better! In fact, 40% of French households1 used them in 2019.
DAY BY DAY, THE 100% BULK FRANCHISE
This French franchise was launched in 2013 by Didier Onraita and David Sutrat, with two stores, one in Versailles and the other in Lille. Today, there are 59 stores throughout France and one in Brussels, Belgium.
I am lucky to have a Day by Day sign in Valencia, where I live. Selçuk Sahman, the manager of the store since it opened in 2018, agreed to answer my questions.
Since the opening of your store, have you noticed an increase in traffic?
Absolutely. This increase is constant. People’s behaviour is changing. They want to take responsibility for their purchasing actions. The approaches are different depending on the customers and their expectations. My store allows everyone to have an impact on the two issues of waste reduction and food waste. But the work is not finished!
Why did you choose the Day by Day sign?
Because I met the two founders of the brand, Didier Onraita and David Sutrat. I was convinced by their commitment and their determination to change our behavior. Then, what I liked about the brand is that each grocer is an actor in this change: we are consulted to reference a product, we regularly provide information to be even more professional in our daily actions… We all want to move forward in the same direction. It’s a business of commitment, that’s why I decided to get involved in the project.
Every day, I have a social and environmental commitment to my clients. These are the values of a lifetime.
Your products are all sold in bulk, but how do you receive them in store?
We receive all products in paper or plastic bags from 3 to 25 kg for pasta, rice, flours, sugars… Liquids, such as washing powder and dishwashing liquid, are in 20-litre cans. Olives and spreads, in 5 kg buckets. Finally, all food liquids are sent in “bag in box” or 5-liter cans.
Are these products 100% French? Premises?
I offer 750 bulk products, 40% of which are organic. 70% of them are French, including local products from suppliers located in the Drôme and Ardèche regions. Among them, Bulle verte (cleaning products), L’herbier du Diois (spices), Christian Rousset (eggs), Ekibio (rice and seeds), Naturhôna (soaps and care products), Apifilm (food packaging), Les Crus d’Sol (wines), Le fournil des lacs (breads), Marie Simon (honey and beeswax), Zao MakeUp (make-up)…
BIOCOOP, THE 100% ORGANIC FRANCHISE
Leader in organic food distribution, Biocoop brings together 630 organic stores around a common goal: the development of organic agriculture in a spirit of equity and collaboration. Biocoop also has 425 employee-members, 3,200 farms, 20 producer groups and 3 consumer associations.
I am also lucky to have a Biocoop in my city. Éric Landa, the store manager, has also agreed to answer my questions.
Since the opening of your store, have you noticed an increase in traffic?
The store has been growing steadily since its opening in 2012. The welcome, the advice, a rigorous specification for a selection of 100% organic products invite our customers to consume differently.
Health crises, junk food, climatic disasters make people think about how to feed themselves and act differently with respect for people and our planet.
Biocoop stores try, at their modest level, to be places of exchange and awareness for a different and responsible consumption.
Why did you choose the Biocoop brand?
First of all, and this is very important for all store managers and directors, Biocoop is not a franchise but a cooperative of independent stores. I was a Biocoop customer and employee before opening my own store. I was seduced by the approach and the militant values that make Biocoop an atypical network (even if today we are more and more copied!): respect for the seasonality of fruits and vegetables, 100% organic products, a large choice of bulk products, the possibility to come with your own containers… among others!
Your products are all in bulk, but how do you receive them in store?
Biocoop has sensitized its suppliers so that bulk is delivered in paper bags limited to 10-15 kg (for in-store handling) when possible.
We have fewer and fewer plastic containers. Our local coffee producer, for example, delivers in burlap bags.
And some fruit and vegetable producers recover their crates for the next deliveries.
Are your products 100% organic?
Our products are 100% organic and not in reasoned agriculture. We need a traceability to guarantee to our customers the origin of the products. Each product must have an organic certificate (AB, French label or Eurofeuille, European label) to be referenced. Ecocert, Demeter, Nature et Progrès certifications are also accepted.
The products are not 100% French but you put forward local products. How much freedom do you have with regard to this?
French organic agricultural production represents only 5% of cultivated land. This is insufficient to meet the growing demand. We therefore import some products, but we favor local production. The local is in the DNA of the network, our charter specifies moreover that the stores have among other objectives to develop the organic agriculture of proximity in a spirit of equity and cooperation. Afterwards, each store is free to reference the local products of its choice. The only restriction: a product can only be considered local if it is produced within a perimeter of 150 km maximum.
Other businesses offering bulk products have developed in recent years. They are often self-employed people who use their own money to get into the business. I encourage you to support them by providing you with supplies in their homes. To find them, several interactive maps are available, including that of CartoVrac: https://cartovrac.fr/
New trend? Well, not really. Our seniors have experienced this supply system. I myself have fond memories of the joyful horn announcing the arrival of the truck in my grandparents’ small Portuguese village. All the inhabitants were rushing around this distributor of happiness. Some depended exclusively on the truck to buy their bread, butter or flour. Today, these bulk trucks are positioned on market squares or strategic points in towns and villages, sometimes far from supermarkets. It is a double service to the community.
THE SILO OF FLAVORS
Audrey Caristia embarked on the bulk truck adventure a year ago. Her truck, Le silo des saveurs, travels through the markets of the Ambonil region in the Drôme. She tells us about her experience.
Where are you going with your bulk truck?
I am on Tuesday at the market of Chabeuil, every 15 days on Tuesday evening in front of the Amap of Montoison and on Thursday morning at the market of Portes-lès-Valence, on Friday at the market of La Voulte-sur-Rhône, on Saturday morning at the Terrail farm in Montmeyran and on Sunday morning at the market of Beauvallon. The schedule evolves according to the seasons and demands. In summer, night markets are added, such as those of Cliousclat or Bois de l’Utopie on the first Fridays of the month, from April to October.
Has there been an increase in attendance since the opening?
Yes, people are curious to see this concept in the markets. I see that more and more people want to reduce their packaging and are turning to bulk sales.
What made you decide to embark on this adventure?
For several years now, and especially since the birth of my daughter, I have become aware that my consumption has direct impacts on my health and my environment. I wished the best for her and decided to change my habits. On the food side, I have limited a maximum of industrial products to privilege small producers in our region with a maximum of organic products. I also wanted to reduce my waste by using washable diapers and wipes when my daughter arrives. Today, I make a lot of products myself, such as dish washing, laundry…
It didn’t all come at once, I went in stages. I wanted to go further in the process by creating Le silo des saveurs, a bulk truck that offers organic and local products in bulk. I wanted to bring the grocery, household products and natural cosmetics to the markets, as this offer was non-existent in the sector.
Going directly to people is great. My customers are very happy to find me, it saves them from going to the supermarket to complete their shopping.
Your products are all in bulk but how do you receive them?
I receive a good part of my products in 25 kg kraft bags. Unfortunately, organic wholesalers still use a lot of plastic to package their products. I try to limit as much as possible, but it is not always easy. The association Réseau Vrac (https://reseauvrac.org) works with suppliers to limit excess packaging.
For local products, I buy directly from the producers, I bring buckets/bins that they fill with pleasure. Locally, it is easier to reduce packaging.
Are these products 100% French? Premises?
In my truck, I have a lot of French products and I prefer local products as much as possible. But some products cannot be found in France. So I buy from an organic wholesaler for what I can’t find, such as dried fruits, coffee, sugar…
Are they 100% organic?
90% of my products are organic. However, some producers don’t have the certification because it represents a cost. If the products are grown with care in the respect of nature and without treatments, then I offer them at the grocery store.