Going Vert: The Parisian’s 10 Tips to Save the Planet (2)

February 7, 2010By David JaggardArchive

It’s Worth Saving

Paris Update green Globe

 The Earth looks pretty green to me in this satellite photo. I like to think it’s because so many Parisians are already taking my advice.

This week, delegates from all over the globe will gather in Vienna for the 2012 World Conference on Climate Change and Humanity, there to discuss what is arguably the most serious problem now facing mankind.

At a time when the world’s top experts and political leaders are grappling with key ecological and environmental issues, I thought I would use the conference as a flimsy pretext to shoot my mouth off. Oops—I mean I thought I would try to do my bit to raise eco-awareness.

And I could think of no better way to do that than to propose a new C’est Ironique Top 10. Of course, I didn’t think about it very long or hard, and I’m not all that smart in the first place, but here goes:

10 Things That Parisians Can Do to Help Save the Planet


When you’re driving, if the traffic should somehow happen to become jammed or even just a little slow (I know—who would expect it?), honk your horn insistently and incessantly. This will remind the other drivers to proceed to their destinations more quickly, thus reducing air pollution.


Better yet, leave your car (illegally) parked and use a Vélib public bicycle! To ensure that you return the bike as quickly as possible so that someone else can use it, you should run red lights and ride at full speed on the sidewalk whenever it’s convenient. Don’t worry—the pedestrians will be only too happy to get out of your way!


Or take an eco-tip from our friends the pickpockets: travel by public transportation as much as possible — even if you’re “just riding around”!


It’s impossible to exaggerate the importance of recycling. If you personally fail to properly sort every ounce of waste that leaves your home, the Earth will explode in the mother of all apocalyptic fireballs next Tuesday at 9:15am, killing all the kittens and puppies first.

OK, so maybe it’s possible after all, but you should still sort your garbage for recycling. Every building in Paris has three color-coded containers. Be sure to use the right one for the right type of trash:

The green-lidded container is for cheese rinds.

The white-lidded container is for wine and perfume bottles.

And the yellow-lidded container is for everything else, including pianos, wet concrete, pet tarantulas that have outgrown their aquariums, and motor scooters that are being discarded because they’re not loud enough. If you are an organ donor, this is where you should leave your kidney.


If you smoke, don’t throw your cigarette butt in the street. Throw it still lit into the nearest public waste receptacle. If you (and all of us!) are lucky, it will start a fire and burn away all the paper and plastic, making it easier for the recycling plant to sort out the metal and glass. Simple but effective!


Do not clean up after your dog on the sidewalk. It’s just plain eco-foolish to use petroleum-derived plastic bags to remove something that’s biodegradable in the first place!


Noise is pollution too—especially in a loud, bustling city like Paris! If you notice someone heightening the city’s decibel level, for example by listening to music on earbuds at a sufficient volume level for you to discern the drum track over the roar of the Métro or traffic, remind them to turn it down. Obviously, you’re going to have to shout to make yourself heard, so don’t be shy!

Environmental experts recommend that you continue yelling at the offender even after they have turned off their audio device and maintain an unabated barrage of abuse until they are well out of earshot. That way they’re less likely to become a “repeat offender”!


Men are in a unique position to help in the struggle to save one of our most precious resources. If you happen to be male, you should urinate in the street as often as possible, especially at night when the bars close, or whenever you think no one’s all that likely to be looking, thus saving water that would have been foolishly wasted on flushing.


An easy way to save electricity is to get a job with EDF, the French electrical utility, join one of the major labor unions, get involved in union politics, rise up through the ranks over the years until you have decision-making power on the administrative board, and push through a nationwide strike that forces random power cutoffs in major urban areas. Aren’t you ashamed that you never thought of it before?


You can help save the forests (you know, those green and brown unpaved places out in the provinces—sort of like the Bois de Boulogne but with fewer transvestite prostitutes) by using less paper. According to one estimate, most of the wood pulp processed by the paper industry literally goes “down the toilet”! But how can we wean ourselves off toilet paper?

The only viable solution is to keep a large stack of six-inch squares cut from last season’s Louis Vuitton scarves in your bathroom. When your pipes back up and flood your building with raw sewage, just remind your neighbors that it’s a small price to pay for rescuing the rain forest!

There you have it. I am well aware that my little article here is an infinitesimally small voice speaking out on a vast issue, but I feel that if I can just convince one Parisian to adopt even one of my 10 suggestions, I will have done my part to help combat global warming.

And then I can turn the thermostat up to 80, leave the lights on and faucets running 24/7 and throw my unsorted garbage out the window. With any luck, I’ll hit a chain-smoking dog owner running a red light on a loud motor scooter. On his way to the Vienna Conference.

David Jaggard

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