Saturday, 2 August 2008

Le Recyclage en Vacances: # 1. En France

So, I packed my reusable bags and the suitcases and hopped into the family car for the start of our great adventure....

...driving from the UK to Switzerland to visit my sister and her family.

I know, I know, driving all that way is not the most sustainable method of getting from A-B but it's better than flying and we're doing it in the knowledge that we're saving diesel as a result of broken air-conditioning, sweltering away in a mobile greenhouse through France with temperatures of 30 degrees.

I would love to reassure everyone that our choices of travel and accommodation were deliberately chosen following Zero Waste principles but the truth of the matter is that I'm terrible at travel arrangements at the best of times, and for such a long journey we needed to get our family of four to Switzerland in the most comfortable way possible.

However the pro-active Zero Waste decisions that I made were to limit the snacks that we bought for in-car travel and to make sure that we ate the perishable contents of the fridge before we left. I suppose bringing several of the kids' toys and books with us also contributed as far as entertainment was concerned.

But it was in true haphazard style that our journey across the channel and through France turned out to be pretty successful as far as Zero Waste is concerned.

As it happens, we travelled from Dover with our usual ferry company, SeaFrance, which in the last few months have upped the ante on the recycling front. I used my best French to chat up the staff to ask them about their Recyclage activities (I even learned a new word there).

Although there are no recycling bins for passengers, the great news is that behind the scenes they recycle plastics, metals, paper and even food waste.

Looking at the SeaFrance website reveals that the company does take its environmental impact seriously and with regard to waste measures, the company seeks to:

  • reduce consumption of resources and raw materials
  • minimise waste from its activities and recycle wherever possible
  • purchase from suppliers who share its concern for the environment
  • whenever possible purchase and use recyclable products or products from sustainable sources
  • promote good environmental practice within the industry
So the moral is...if you're on board a SeaFrance ferry, don't put your plastic bottles in the bin...leave them on the table or hand them to staff, who will sort them out for you. Hooray.

So having felt happy that I could suitably dispose of our recyclables on the ferry, we then set off for our 4 hour journey to Troyes, the location of our overnight stop to the South-East of Paris.

Our first pit-stop was at one of the many "aire de services" dotted along the auto-route, where we were greeted by a public recycling point, featuring huge containers for verres (glass) and emballages (including cans and plastic packaging).

By now we were gathering a suitable number of empty plastic bottles, despite having several reusable containers. So again we could happily dispose of them properly before travelling on to the hotel in Troyes.

Finally we arrived at our splendid hotel, where we quickly slipped into the land of nod.

Having had a great rest, thought twice about using the toiletries and indulged in an amazing breakfast, I happily made the greatest discovery...revealed by a poster displayed on the wall...

It stated that the hotel, which is part of the Accor chain (and includes Novotel, Ibis, Mercure and Etap) has signed up to the group's Environmental Charter, which amongst many other glorious things features a promise to...

  • Recycle paper/cardboard packaging
  • Recycle papers, newspapers and magazines
  • Limit the use of disposable packaging for the hotel supplies
  • Recycle glass packaging
  • Recycle plastic packaging
  • Recycle metal cans
  • Organise sorting of waste in bedrooms
  • Limit individual packaging of hygiene products in bedrooms
  • Recycle restaurant organic waste
  • Recycle garden green waste
  • Dispose safely of hotel batteries
  • Dispose safely of guests’ batteries
  • Recycle electrical and electronic equipment
  • Recycle ink cartridges
  • Dispose safely of fluorescent bulbs/tubes

Phew. What a relief!

It may have been purely coincidental, but this fine piece of news certainly makes me a happy bunny that our travel accommodation was perfectly aligned with my overall attempts at Zero Waste.

So ....

...based on our travel so far and and having experienced what's really possible, when making holiday plans in future I will most definitely make the effort to track down hotels that actively seek to reduce waste, and will be delighted to give them our business.

After all, if it's been so easy to come about by accident, just imagine what you can find if you really look.



Anonymous said...

It sounds like you have stumbled upon some wonderful and forward-thinking resources over there, Mrs A. Good for you; and it means your conscience can take a well earned break too.

Enjoy the rest of your adventures and well done on the zero waste snacks.

Margaret's Ramblings said...

Wow! For someone who says she isn't up to planning holidays you have dne well. Do keep us up to date with the rest of your adventure. Have fun.

Anonymous said...

It is good to see foreign business doing their bit for Zero Waste. As enthusiasts ourselves we forget about the waste mountains business generates here. Showing better practice elsewhere will encourage change. I hope the whole family enjoy the remaining time on holiday.

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi Mrs G - it was a coincidence but a happy one at that. There are some real amazing things over here which are real eye-openers about recycling behaviour. Can't wait to tell you about them. ;-D x

Hi Margaret - Thanks for dropping by and for your lovely comment. It really is great over here, with lots of fun to be had. I see you're up in place of study when I was a wee student. I can't wait to pop over to your blog for a proper visit when I get back from hols. :-D

Hi John - That's the great thing about getting away from home once in a while. Businesses and other organisations have been one of my background focuses for a while back home. It's great to really experience those where the values shine through. :-D

Admin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi drmathew - thanks for visiting and for also leaving a comment. I don't have personal experience of using others, so haven't witnessed what facilities they have onboard. But thanks for the links to Norfolk Line. I will be researching this as well as other travel provider such as airlines for a chapter in my book. If you or any other readers have experiences of ferry services or airlines, please feel free to add a comment here or drop me a line. :-D

ferry said...

That is quite an impressive initiative taken by Sea France. But Mr. Mathew, I think this service is provided by some other ferryservice providers too. I read somewhere that Norfolkine has recently taken delivery of new refrigerated trailers from Gray & Adams (Ireland) Ltd.that are 92% recyclable.

promy said...

Yes, its an impressive and environmental friendly initiative taken by Sea France promy.
And you are right Ferry, I too read that piece of news in norfolkline site (

Admin said...

It appears to be a good step. Is this offer being given only by Sea France or do other operators which ferry to france and could you recommend any Cheap ferries on this route?

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