Paris To Go

Ten Ways to Travel Zero Waste

One of the most exciting (and frustrating, for someone who needs control as much as me) things about my life is I never know where I’m going. Like a Dukhan nomad, I need to be ready to pack up and move at a moment’s notice, and owning very few things makes this okay, so long as wherever I’m headed, there’s gluten free food. Unfortunately, flying is one of the biggest carbon sins, accounting for over 3/4 of my emissions. One round trip flight from Cleveland to Paris creates at least 3 tons of carbon dioxide for which I alone am responsible. Since I don't drive much, eat vegan, and live in an apartment, this is the largest part of my carbon footprint, as is the case for many city dwellers. Written like this, it really sinks in, like that time I found out Gossip Girl was a guy :( There are things I try to do to minimize impact while traveling, however.

  1. Embrace e-tickets. Download tickets instead of printing them, and use electronic visas where possible. E-tickets are available for most attractions these days- at Versailles and Giverny, for instance. It's estimated one email emits 4 grams of CO2, whereas a letter-size sheet of paper emits 140 grams, embodied energy of smartphones and printers notwithstanding. Factoring in the fact that you can't compost airline tickets, e-tickets win.
  2. Carry on only. If you're water only and use baking soda as deodorant and rich bar soap for everything else, you can get away with not even using a plastic bag for liquids. That being said, I now travel with a Weck 080 mini mold jar of coconut oil (using the same size jar for baking soda) for oil pulling (it's also a great makeup remover, moisturizer, post-Brazilian treatment etc.). I take palm oil-free bar soap in a small linen drawstring bag and use a clear TSA approved zip bag from Muji that my mom gave me for liquids, which usually amounts to just coconut oil and hummus. Bonus points if your carry-on is secondhand- mine is a Rimowa from my husband.
  3. Refill drinking utensils after security. Sometimes they won't refill your cup or canteen on the plane, especially on short domestic flights. On longer flights, I find that if they won't refill at your seat, they will at the back of the plane. It still comes from those giant water bottles, but at least you're sparing a plastic cup and unnecessary napkin. And yes, mason jars are allowed on airplanes. They'll even let you take glass or ceramic mugs.
  4. Refuse amenities. Bring a napkin (mine is actually an Ikea Elly towel), headphones, a big scarf to use as blanket, eye mask (I don't even have one as my eyes are already squinty enough), pillow (I just use a bunched up sweater, but there are organic fill ones), and socks (my grandpa's pure wool hand-me-downs. Swedish Stockings is an ethical option). I'm as tempted by Givenchy shaving kits and oversized Van Laack pajamas as the next person, but increased vulnerability to climate change is not worth looking like a luxe version of that scary clown from Big Comfy Couch.
  5. Pack food and utensils. I always bring almonds, goji berries, apples, vegan peanut butter cups (I need them for writing), and dehydrated veggie chips purchased in bulk because they fill me up, fit nicely in light drawstring bags, and bypass even the tightest security. I should know- I'm apparently on a watch list because of some of the countries I've been to and an astonishing number of one way tickets / last minute flights. In the end, I don't have anything left to compost, since I eat apple cores and stems. Carry a lightweight stainless steel tiffin for compostables, and call ahead to opt out of the airline meal. 
  6. Bring your own pen. The one I use is Caran d'Ache because you can buy refills in Paris. Midori's brass ballpoint pen looks nice and classy, like something Joan Collins would use to sign checks while sipping martinis in Dynasty.
  7. Take public transport. Or walk everywhere. Sorry to be obvious but I needed to put this in here to make ten steps. We rented a car for our last few trips though.
  8. Don't forget reusables. A few foldable shopping bags; a little tiffin to take away berries, gluten-free baklava, kimchi, or vegan GF matcha cookies; and a mason jar should be all you need, lightweight enough to carry all day. Pack a menstrual cup and handkerchiefs, as always. Regarding razors- I saved my last plastic cartridge for travel, but I've just been taking my regular safety razor for years now. Nobody's said anything (I'd recommend carrying the blade separately, however, or checking it in). Same with my bamboo toothbrush and makeup brushes, although one commenter pointed out you can get stopped at customs for bringing wood into some countries.
  9. Travel differently. Choose ecologically or culturally important destinations, and make the most of your time there by volunteering, staying in a homestay, or an Airbnb instead of a hotel. For instance, in Kuala Lumpur you can volunteer at Free Tree Society, or in Bali at Green School.
  10. Just say no. If none of these steps are possible, simply refuse a plastic straw when eating out or ask for a reusable mug instead of a disposable cup. And order vegan instead :) A latte emits 340g of carbon because of milk, and if one more person tries to tell me almond milk is worse than dairy because it uses a lot of water, I will lose it. I will dissolve into a mobile puddle of water and glow brightly like Alex Mack when she's nervous.

Paris to Go

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days of Zero Waste

When somebody ghosts you, it's normally because you use the word "gentrification" too much or frequently lie- both to yourself and others- about how much you've actually eaten today. But what if you nix the Chinese takeout that naturally accompanies Netflix? And get fair trade coffee to go in a mason jar? Or have a giant bowl of compost just chilling in the fridge?

Let me preface this by saying that the last time I went on a date, Cara Delevingne and Harry Styles were an item, Taylor Swift didn't have a squad, and most famous girls seemed to hate her, so you shouldn't take advice from me. Also, it sounds like existentialist Simone de Beauvoir mumbo-jumbo, but if you're happy with yourself, it won't matter if he / she thinks a carbon sink is a bathroom fixture. When you contemplate sharing your life with another person, though, you need to share values. Zero waste is a huge one. As with eating gluten free, it's a lifestyle, so whether you're dating your spouse or a completely new person, everyone needs to be onboard.

Anyway, in a world where apps make it possible to both order food to and stalk prey directly from bed, the one question on everyone single twenty-to-thirtysomething's mind must surely be: What's the carbon footprint of Tinder? Internet and app-based dating reduces consumption of physical resources like paper, but manufacturing, powering, and cooling devices, servers, and data centers all emit GHGs.  IT related services now account for 2% of all global carbon emissions- about the same as the aviation sector. Tinder, which processed over one billion swipes per day in October 2014, makes over 26 million matches each day globally. It's an AWS customer, meaning they use less servers, less power, and a cleaner power mix than competitors. Still, considering the fact that the average user spends about an hour and a half on the app each day, and the industry standard PUE is 1.50 (compared to Facebook's 1.09), swiping is somewhat resource intensive.

Le Comptoir General
Nevertheless, the average person's Facebook use for an entire year has the same carbon impact as a medium latte, so you may be better off using Messenger to chat with that cutie from linear algebra class than driving to Starbucks for coffee (if you must, have a tea- lower carbon footprint). Alternately, an email emits about 4g CO2, and a text takes 0.014 grams per message, so it's greener to walk up to someone and talk to them, especially if the coasters, straws, cups, and stirring sticks where you're at are reusable, or you brought your mason jar for drinks. The most energy intensive of them all? Snapchat and streaming video. Call friends on the phone instead.

In fact, using a tablet or smartphone is best for quick perusal of potential fresh meat, since they consume less energy than larger devices- just don't replace them every year. The total life emissions of an iPhone6 amount to 95kg, which means that while a shift to cloud based operations could result in a 38% reduction of energy usage, embodied energy from tablet and smartphone upgrades may negate any decrease. Fairphone and Phonebloks offer conflict free or modular, repairable smartphones, which could offset the manufacture footprint of devices. Another variable is energy needed to charge and operate devices used for dating apps. These account for only 11% of total life emissions, but you should at least power down your computer if you'll be away from OkCupid (is that a website or an app? I don't actually know) for two hours. Even in sleep mode, computers burn energy- about 15-60 watts in use vs. 2-5 watts sleep mode. Switched off devices and chargers can draw up to 2 watts of energy plugged in, so always use a power strip or unplug.

Brasserie 2éme Art
When you meet someone, regardless of how, the opportunities for waste reduction are infinite. Maybe you'll be stuck with a plastic wristband at the concert, but hopefully you downloaded tickets to your phone (same for movies), refused plastic straws and paper napkins, or brought a reusable cup where permitted. Did you take a stainless steel EcoLunchbox for leftovers, and your own napkin for dinner? Are they willing to meet at vegan or plastic free restaurants (like Le Tricycle, Hank Pizza, and Brasserie 2eme Art), venues that recup food waste (such as NomosSimone Lemon, or Freegan Pony), or places that compost / upcycle / reclaim abandoned spaces (Mûre, Le Comptoir General, La Recyclerie, Le Pavillon de Canaux, Madame Lupin vernissages)? If you ask for ice cream in your own jar, will they freak out? Are you wearing a secondhand outfit, or something from Reformation? I recently sat next to a couple on their first Tinder date at Deux Fois Plus de Piment and interrupted to praise the Szechuan hotspot's reusable chopsticks (vegan Tien Hiang uses only reusables also). They were nice about it (one of my first nights in Paris I sat next to a guy dumping his girlfriend at Mama Shelter and she cried all over my roasted pineapple. That wasn't so nice. Also, last time I went to Candelaria I sat next to a Tinder matched couple and the girl ended up hitting on my friend and the guy just talked to my husband the whole night). Picnics or trips to the farmer's market are, of course, classic zero waste dates, but you should at least achieve the closeness of Lily and Marshall, if not Marshall and Brad, before attempting.

When I asked my zero waste friends, they recommended ordering something that doesn't come with a straw- such as a pint of beer or glass of wine- or bringing only a mason jar, handkerchief, and napkin on a first date. One said a guy found her "too sustainable" because she used cloth bags, bar soap, reusable cotton pads, and a Thermos. I hate him! The story has a happy ending, though, because she later met a PhD studying recycling and their first conversation was about compost :) For the most part, though, it seems zero wasters find compatible, open-minded, wonderful partners... after putting up with a few jerks first. People who can't understand why we refuse straws or don't have trash cans make way for ecologically conscious, curious, and inspired people. If you're out of the zero waste dating game and already married or involved with someone who isn't zero waste, click here.

Friend date at La Mano: On me, Reformation Edison dress and Levi's shorts. On her, Louis Vuitton coat

Oh, and if you want a list of zero waste essentials for nights out, here's what I tucked into my purse to go the Chedi with my husband: coconut oil (to remove makeup and freshen breath) and baking soda (deodorant and toothpaste) in Weck 080 mini mold jars, a tiny refillable vial of perfume (Le Labo is cruelty free and zero waste), a bamboo toothbrush, clean handkerchief, and Burt's Bees lip balm my friend gave me because she bought the wrong color and couldn't return it and I'm just the right shade of orange for it. In the days before water only, I'd have brought a wooden hairbrush or homemade hair tie. Everything fits compactly in a purse, and you can reuse old metal lip balm containers for coconut oil and baking soda, if carrying a clutch.

As for birth control, some use a fertility monitor as a non-hormonal option or an IUD to reduce packaging, and Sustain is the most zero waste condom. But birth control is really personal and I'm not a doctor. As I said, I haven't even dated really. I'm against it. When girls hit on my brother I remind them that I used to make girls like them cry themselves to sleep in high school. Whenever I see people update their relationship status on Facebook I'm like, "He / she is making a huge mistake." When friends are ready to commit to someone, I typically tell them to cut bangs instead. And we all know I'm basically a PTA mom with the fashion sense of a PTA mom's grandmother, so I can neither advocate nor criticize any of the options herein. Whatever you decide, zero waste needs to take a backseat whenever health is concerned.

Paris to Go

Oatmeal Paris

Oatmeal was one of the only things I could eat for breakfast back in the dark days when delicious gluten free food was objet petit a. Quick, filling, easy to make and transport, it was also super boring, like that guy in high school you date for a long time because you don't know there's better stuff out there- a Dean from Gilmore Girls, if you will. It's no wonder, then, that when I saw friends' heaping bowls from Oatmeal Paris on Instagram, it instantly conjured up memories of singing Tik Tok and Party in the USA while driving to school in my friend Lauren's Hummer.

They quickly assured me this wasn't anything like the livestock feed Quaker puts in packets and markets as heart healthy, however. The beautiful and super nice owner, Reale, serves up 100% vegan food, including sweet and savory oatmeals and giant turmeric, matcha, beet, or pumpkin spice lattes replete with pumpkin marshmallows. Brownies and banana bread accompany tomato kale burgers and maca smoothies. If you're celiac, she always has gluten free oats, and the best selection of books (like The New Jim Crow) so you can read in the soothing, minimalist space all day.

To me, the best is the vegan Nutella oatmeal although I heard the spicy zucchini, tomato, and arugula bowl is incredible. My friend Natasha even suggested a speculoos latte once, and she added it to the menu :) Oatmeal Paris is one of those sleek, refined vegan restaurants that turns the stereotype of yoga instructors snorting kale on its head- and it's not expensive. You get a lot of food for a reasonable price, which isn't typical of the Left Bank I think.

We spent about four hours sitting there, talking to Reale, taking photos, and stuffing ourselves like the campers in Heavyweights after they tricked Tony into falling into that pit. There's a nice communal table for socializing, but if you need some peace and quiet, little nooks in the corner where you can relax and unwind. It's also completely zero waste friendly- non-disposable flatware, bowls, and plates, plus lots of toppings in mason jars on the counters. Oatmeal is the kind of place normally found only in London, and it's so welcome here- brasseries are nice and all, but somedays, a basket of fries and a nicoise salad won't cut it. Sometimes you just want to curl up in a corner in the sun and enjoy a nice piping hot bowl of gluten free cereal with your besties.

Oatmeal Paris

11bis Rue Vauquelin
Open Monday 12-6PM, Tuesday, Thursday-Saturday 10:30-6PM
Paris to Go