Paris Perspectives: Moving Towards a Sustainable Society

We are excited to announce we have an amazing Sustainability Reporter, Nicky Andrews joining the Planet B Insights team! Nicky lives in France and will be sharing her perspectives and experiences of living an environmentally conscious lifestyle in one of the world’s most popular cities, Paris.
Here is her first post!

Do you care greatly about the environment but still find yourself ordering Uber eats on a weeknight because you’re too tired to cook and after satisfying your hunger start feeling guilty about all that single use plastic littering your coffee table? Yes? Well you’re not alone.

Like you, I am passionate about the environment and yet, I’m not perfect in my own personal actions. I am hyper-aware of my impact but often due to the lack of alternative options (and let’s be honest sometimes just laziness) I still do things that I’m not proud of. For example, purchasing food in single use plastics, using a straw at a bar because I forgot to specify that I didn’t want one, or throwing out compostable waste into a regular bin (I know, I know, it’s despicable).

I have spent just over 14 months in Paris!

When small changes become habits

BUT I believe that awareness and small changes are so important in addressing these growing environmental problems.  And eventually these small changes become ingrained habits. We can’t all become environmental warriors overnight. It’s the equivalent of telling someone who has never exercised before to go run a marathon; they’re probably not going to succeed and their failure will probably deter them from ever running again.

Over the last year I’ve introduced small changes into my life, just one at a time so I don’t feel overwhelmed. 

Firstly, I decided to stop eating beef. I’m not ready to go full vegetarian (and don’t even talk to me about being vegan…), but I decided that quitting beef was achievable for me. Beef has the highest environmental impact of any other meat so I thought it was a good place to start. Other than missing burgers it hasn’t been too difficult to implement and over one year I will be saving approximately 350 kg of greenhouse gas emissions. 

Secondly I decided to stop buying any new clothes. Now if I’m desperate for a new outfit I go onto an online second hand store and spend an evening scrolling through other people’s wardrobes for treasures. For every second hand purchase of clothing, I am saving around 3000 litres of water, 5 kgs of GHG emissions, and prevent someone else’s clothes ending up in landfill.  

Each step is small but if other people were to take similar actions that they felt were realistic, it would amount to a significant difference. 


When I first saw Laura’s project Planet B Insights, I was intrigued. This site gives practical advice and international examples to inspire change, and impressive stories about what other countries have already achieved.  Plus, Laura is an honest, down to earth Aussie woman whose passion and personality are ingrained into everything she writes. Therefore, imagine my excitement when she asked me to write regular guest blogs about Paris!!

Moving to Paris

So why am I living in France? Well 3 years ago I met a lovely, handsome yet slightly weird frenchman on Tinder. 18 months later we were married and then I suggested we spend a year living in France so I could learn his language, understand his culture and get to know his family.  

It’s been 14 months since we made the move and I would say I’m 70% adapted to life here. (My language skills still need some work).  Despite feeling more settled with the day-to-day life, I have often struggled with the lack of awareness and/or interest in environmental action from the Paris citizens. This is evidenced when you look to the streets. I took this photo yesterday – a very common, yet seldom photographed, view of Paris.  

A not-so-rare view – a plastic straw, takeaway cup and approximately 30 cigarette butts…

These problems are also illustrated in the office where plastic cups for water and coffee are the norm, recycling systems are not always in place and printing is still seen as essential for most tasks.

My focus on sustainability

However, the more research I did, the more I realised that change is happening here and there are some things coming to France that we can feel excited about. On a monthly basis I will share with you different environmental initiatives that I have discovered in Paris, and individual actions that could be replicated in any city. 

Here are some of the topics I will explore: 

  • The 2020 EU single use plastic ban 
  • Living a plastic free lifestyle today
  • France’s approach to sustainable transport including cycling and electric vehicles
  • The 2024 Olympics and sustainability
  • The second hand clothing market 
  • Measuring and reporting of climate initiatives

I look forward to sharing these perspectives and insights from France over the coming months! 

Nicky Andrews is Planet B Insights’ Sustainability Reporter in France. She focuses on waste management including the challenges and opportunities as France transitions to a low waste, environmentally friendly society.


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