A rendition of the Champs-Élysées in Paris 2024 © AFP PHOTO /PCA-STREAM
Every year, countries around the world expand their efforts to care for the planet as climate change increasingly becomes more prevalent in our day-to-day. France is a shining example of a nation that is actively trying to make an ecological difference in creative and innovative ways. From enforcing an eco-friendly Olympic Games to increasing sustainable hotel standards, les français take their care for the plantète very seriously.
SUBSCRIBE TO THE MAGAZINE
In honor of Earth Day, we highlight the range of creative initiatives that the French have implemented to fight back against climate change and support our dear Madame Earth.
Reimagining the Champs-Élysées
Once the “most beautiful avenue in the world,” the famous Champs-Élysées has over time become more of a tacky tourist trap and busy highway littered with cars. Luckily, in anticipation of the Olympics heading this way, the city has decided to reimagine the area as a “green oasis.” Getting transformed into an extraordinary garden, the Paris promenade will feature 400 more trees along the 15,000 additional sq meters of green space, decreased road space and increased pedestrian walkways, as well as an emphasis on small, local shops as opposed to large chain stores. This initiative will increase the natural beauty and decrease pollution.
Environmental Ambition for the Olympic Games
Taking on an unprecedented approach to the Olympic Games, Paris has put ecological consideration at the forefront of its execution. The 2024 host of the Olympics has committed to using 100% renewable energy and will be using existing venues for 95% of the competitions such as the Rolland Garros Stadium and the Stade de France Arena while also repurposing existing space like the Champ-de-Mars lawn of the Eiffel Tower and the Château de Versailles.
Increased Sustainable Hotel Standards
Star ratings are a very important parameter in the hotel industry in France. The list of criteria for awarding stars was revised in April 2022 to include 27 criteria related to sustainable development (up from 13 in the previous list), 15 of which are mandatory. These include a variety of measures that encompass energy-saving, water-saving, and waste management efforts as well as the requirement to use environmentally friendly cleaning products.
No Single Use Plastic
In 2015, France became the first country in the world to pass a law banning the production and sale of single-use plastic items. The law, which came into effect in 2020, includes items such as plastic bags, straws, cutlery, and plates. This move has significantly reduced the amount of plastic waste produced in the country, which is a major contributor to global pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
France has always had a hand in the game of “sustainable transportation” when looking at its common urban design features that are very intentionally pedestrian and bike friendly. However, they have also invested heavily in public transport infrastructure, with a particular focus on electric trains and buses. In addition, the government has introduced tax incentives for people who buy electric or hybrid cars and has set a target of ending the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040. These measures have helped to reduce air pollution and encourage the use of sustainable transport in all forms.
Cleaner Cuisine and Agriculture
French cuisine is notoriously filled with meat and animal products. But recently, a shift in haute cuisine has started to bring more emphasis to plant-based foods. The multiple-Michelin star chef Alain Ducasse has declared that the time has come to expand on plant-based offerings as vegetables bring on “a world of new flavors to explore.” There are also French tech startups who are on the verge of forging new sustainable cheeses that mimic the taste of the French classics!
Fighting Food Waste
In February 2016, France enacted a law that required supermarkets to donate their unsold food products to charities as opposed to destroying them. This action not only benefits communities in need, but it also extremely more ecological. Efforts like this in addition to the nation’s traditional agriculture practices are why France tops the charts of the Food Sustainability Index year after year.
More Organic & Biodynamic Wine
The French would not be who they are without their wine. An integral part of the culture, winemakers in France have realized the part they can play in the contribution to a cleaner world. By decreasing their use of chemical-based pesticides, they create a healthier environment for wildlife and also for humans.
Perhaps France’s innovative actions will help inspire how you contribute to a greener planet!