Zero Waste Brussels

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Until last weekend, I'd never been to Brussels, but my friends described it as a magical place where beer tasted like cream soda and everything smelled of chocolate. We stayed in an Airbnb off Avenue Louisa; other intriguing options included Maison Flagey minimalist, colorful Leon 16 B&B. For 36 blissful hours we had a fireplace in every room, a courtyard and two giant bathrooms powered entirely by biomass and solar energy- at less than half the monthly rent of our apartment in Paris. The owners thoughtfully left us Leonidas chocolates and mini toiletries that went untouched (the toiletries, not the chocolates). My mom had her Lush shampoo and body bars in reusable tins and my grandmother and I used a jar of baking soda for everything from toothpaste and deodorant to shampoo and facial scrub. There is a lovely ancient forest near the house- Bois de la Cambre- a short walk takes you to a little dock where you board a boat and sail to an island restaurant.

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My favorite place in Brussels is organic, gluten-free cafe and sustainable bulk shop Chyl- one stop shopping for vegan zero-wasters. Everything from food to beauty products and home goods are high quality and unpackaged. In the restaurant, I love their vegan chocolate cake with avocado icing. Färm is another great sustainable co-op with a nice bulk section. Make sure to visit Knees to Chin, which serves vegan, gluten-free dishes like Vietnamese rice paper rolls and steamed coco mochies, and La Caravane, which has a great selection of secondhand furniture and deadstock design. After Place Jourdan, we stopped by Atelier Relief, an artist's residence and gallery, and Maison Particuliere, a private art center. My mom wanted beer glasses, so on a recommendation, we visited La Vaisselle au Kilo, with racks of unpackaged housewares and every kind of beer glass known to man. We were eating lunch across from the Jewish Arts Museum, just sitting in the window, when a shooter pulled up and killed four people. Three died at the scene, the fourth victim died later.

I don't know how to transition from that so I'll just say we skipped vegan, gluten-free Moonfood and went back to the house to watch the news. Before driving back the next morning, we ate at mim. They have a gluten-free buffet with smoked salmon, rose petal creme brûlée, and rich chocolate mousse. Maybe I've lived in Paris too long, but I thought 28 euro for champagne brunch was a great value. My mom got a grocery pad that says, "Chopin Lizt."

We walked to the former palace and visited the flower market at Grand Square before heading back to the house to clean up. Very close to Grand Place is a nice spot for tea, Maison Dandoy. Composting and recycling are compulsory in Brussels, so all trash goes into yellow, blue, white, or green bags. Our grand total was two McDonald's cups with straws (blue bag, for recycling), one straw wrapper (yellow bag, paper and cardboard recyclables), and an apple stem (my contribution- green bag for composting).

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Paris to Go

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