Monday, September 12, 2011

How Green Was My Valley

(Just as a side note, I had to look up about the book.  It actually looks pretty interesting, so here's another book on the to-read list.)

Personally, I find it amazing how much more ecology is focused on in France.  When you walk down any large street in France, it's usually fairly littered with cigarette butts.  People don't really bother to look for a trash can in which to throw them out.  They just get put out on the street, and that's the end of it.  As well, no one ever cleans up after their dog.  It's custom to give each other a heads up if you see some "crotte de chien."

However; on just about every street corner, you'll see recycling.  There are usually three types of receptacles in France.  The first type is for what is for household, or daily waste.  Normally it's what you'd put into a trash bag.  So really, it's what you would use for just about everything.  The second is for cardboard packaging, plastic bottles, and corrugated cardboard.  Usually these have a yellow top.  The last group tends to be for glass bottles.  They're usually green and white and are usually only big enough to fit a wine bottle.  Glass receptacles are a bit more difficult to find, but normally they're close.  It's just a matter of knowing what color goes with which.  Each is also clearly labeled with what it accepts. 

The placement makes it so much more simple to be ecologically smart than in the US.  France fully funds recycling programs.  I seem to remember that in the US, you'd have to pay for it like any other service like that.

I also love the wind turbines in France.  They're literally everywhere.  I've never driven in a car without seeing them.  I find them hauntingly beautiful.  Part of it may just be the fact that they're always in front of gray skies, as we are in Brittany.  I seriously could just sit there and watch them turn.  I had only seen them in one place back in Ohio, around Bowling Green.  

It seems in the US that we really don't want to move to a more green system, and Europe seems to be lightyears ahead of us.  I saw on an infographic earlier this morning where each American pays over $500 in subsidies to oil and gas giants, but pays less than $10 to subsidize green power sources.  

I am pretty sure a lot of it has to do with the influence of the Greens in Europe versus that in the US.  Nationally in France, they have a constituency in parliament and have been running candidates for the last few years.  They have  a real voice and some level of power.  In the US, it's only been Ralph Nader, and he never clears more than maybe 3 percent.  It's pretty disappointing to watch the US fall behind the rest of the world really, but if people aren't willing to move on, there's not to much that can be done. 


  1. sounds like we could learn a thing or two...

  2. As long as very small but strong minority can make a great deal of money from coal, oil and "natural" gas, the US, which is still the leader in the consumption of such things and the subsequent polution that follows, will never be as green as it could be.

    I keep seeing all these commercials for "clean" natural gas, as though that is an option, but I've also seen people with well water that can be lit aflame at the tap.

  3. David - I think it's very true. I think with how very individualistic America tends to be, it's very hard for us to actually learn lessons without some sort of mitigating circumstance.

    Writer - Clean coal and clean Natural Gas ads are hilarious. There was a pretty decent ad campaign around the elections about clean coal. It would be kind of nice if we weren't constantly trying to make money at the expense of everyone else.

  4. I guess if France had oil fields, things might be different. Population density being also higher than USA can have an influence... the history of the country... It's very difficult to compare the real motivation of it all.

    And yes, la "crotte de chien" est une marque de commerce typiquement française! Tout comme le français au béret, le mégot dans la bouche et la baguette sous le bras!!! ;)

  5. Some some say it's the crêpes; I say it's the "crotte de chien."