Greener Paris Initiative

Greener Paris Initiative

Living in Amsterdam we experience a relatively small amount of car exhaust pollution. The city is set up with a great network of public transportation, everyone uses a bicycle, and expensive parking and pedestrian areas encourages people not to take their cars into the center. People are using public spaces for growing plants and the city council encourages urban gardens and ecolabs.


Last weekend however, we experienced the opposite when we went to Paris for a weekend trip. The local municipality had acknowledged the problem of car exhaust fumes and had made the public transportation free for everyone. In the city of diamonds and rubies (front and tail lights) it seemed that even this wasn’t enough to offset the pollution hanging in the center of Paris.

Our visit to the Eiffel tower showed how bad the problem was, with the top of the tower being barely visible.



Fortunately, the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo is aware of this issue and aims to make the city much more livable and greener. Paris just passed a new law that allows anyone to plant an urban garden within the city’s limits. Upon receiving a permit, gardeners can grow plants on walls, in boxes, on rooftops, under trees, or on fences. They can cultivate greenery in front of their homes or offices. They can grow flowers, vegetables, and fruit.

It is intended that Paris will go from one of the least green capital cities in Europe to one of the greenest.

Remember that most Christmas cards, gift wrap, & envelopes can also be reused, recycled, or composted.


Sustainable gift ideas:


Think before you buy, ask yourself “Do we really need more stuff?”

If you still wish to get your loved ones a gift there are some non-commercial alternatives below that may work for you.


  • Make a donation on behalf of a loved one
  • Buy from used items from a 2nd hand, goodwill, or charity shop
  • Buy sustainable goods
  • Make or bake your own gifts
  • Give away cuttings or plants
  • Give seeds or seedlings
  • Make your own seed bombs (see how here)
  • Give experiences such as movie dates, day trips, learn a skill, or take some time away
  • Create vouchers for your time or skills


What about lights?


As the days are short and the darkness can creep in it may be nice to have some extra lights in the house. I would suggest picking LED lights or using candles. I have had my lights for about 10 years and do not intend to replace them once they stop working. We were also given some light stars last year by an aunt that upgraded to new lights last year.


Christmas has become one of the most wasteful and unsustainable holidays in the world. Of course we all enjoy gift giving and receiving but it is nice to be mindful of the environment and the needs of those less fortunate. Remember that the holidays are about family and friends and being together.


In saying that, I would like to thank you all for your support this year and wish you a wonderful holiday season.