Blog Post #8

SLS-France Fall 2023 Student Blog

September 21, 2023

Paloma Cardozo-Willigs 

Sustainability: A Comparison

As mentioned in the sustainability presentation this week, the reduction of waste is crucial for our future health. Apart from reducing plastic, other wastes can be reduced easily by buying second-hand. For instance, this week, I went to many thrift stores to buy second-hand clothing and accessories. In every European city I've been to lately, I've been to many thrift stores and have noticed they are more popular, and more widespread, than in America. The thrift stores themselves seem to advertise their eco-friendliness. In Amsterdam this weekend, the store was covered in signs urging people to consider the planet. Amsterdam in particular had a very green feel to it. For another example, when I bought a toothbrush from my hostel, I was given one made from wood, whose paper wrapper advertised its durability. That same trip, in Amsterdam, I came across lots of street art that although a bit grunge, promoted environmental responsibility. It reminds me of when we read Petit Traité du Jardin Punk, which discussed the connection between the punk movement and sustainability. The same way the punk movement isn't mainstream, neither is being green. At least where I come from in the United States, the vast majority of people do not go out of their way to implement more sustainable practices. However, not just Amsterdam considers the environment. This week I also took a day trip to Nancy to go shopping, and I stumbled across a store called Vetethic that only sells eco-responsible items. They sold recycled items, second-hand items, and local artisanal items. I found out they are partnered with a larger company, called The Good Goods, who aims to reconstruct the world of fashion in a more sustainable way. Then, I discovered that mass producing clothes is horrible for the earth in many ways, but particularly in the sense of pollution and energy. When you buy second-hand items, you save water. It takes over one thousand gallons of water to make just one pair of jeans, for example. It also conserves natural resources, like cotton, or when you buy used furniture, you save wood. Additionally, you reduce emissions from transport of new products.

This week, when we began our own waste documentation journals, I realized the little fixes I can make to reduce waste that I have been oblivious to. For example, I can buy food in bulk in order to not waste plastic by using multiple single-serving containers.. My experiences, particularly this week, in Metz, or further in Lorraine, or even other countries have totally transformed the way I live, and the way I will keep living. When it's time to move back to my less sustainable country, I will fight against the poorly designed infrastructure and common non-green practices to make sure my habits are sustainable. Although I didn't before, I will make sure to use reusable grocery bags, buy wooden toothbrushes, buy second-hand items, avoid buying plastic packaged goods, and to generally make it a habit to focus on sustainability.