Sunday, 28 September 2008

Going Green

It has been quite challenging applying my green principles here in Guadeloupe. For a start, they don't appear to have got into recycling yet. The main (and only?) recycling place is near Pointe a Pitre and we haven't yet visited. We saw a few booths outside the post office but it turns out they are just for glass and plastic bottles. In the meantime I have been throwing away all my paper and feeling terribly naughty every time!

Recycling food is not an issue, as it all goes to the pig. It is very satisfying knowing that all our peelings and leftovers are going to such good use!

Speaking of the post office, when we were there for Environment Day recently, I was very frustrated that along with the croissants and cafe, they were giving us plastic plates and cups! These are so frequently used here, and it was very ironic to seeing them piling up in the rubbish bin next to the posters telling us how long items take to degrade!

Items get recycled quite well. Did I mention my BIL collects the glass doors from washing machines on the side of the road and makes them into pyrex dishes for his wife? And there are 101 uses for the front part of the ventilator (the girls love playing with them to serve food or store dolls) which is a good thing as they break so very easily and quickly there are plenty around.

I visited an organic shop this week called Biocoop and was delighted to find the Ecover range, as my stain remover had run out. I also found eco friendly washing up liquid, powder and toilet cleaner in Carrefour. Plus I found recycled toilet paper. Did you know one of my biggest hates in this world is pink toilet paper? It is rife in France, but I am delighted to tell you that this paper is white (with pretty pictures on it and very soft, a big bonus for the girls!).

Carrefour has a whole aisle dedicated to organic food, though I don't see many people in that aisle! Other shops have a few products here and there. And there are a few of the organic shops around. I haven't really found anywhere that sells fruit and vegetables though. The Biocoop sells seeds so perhaps Bertie will plant these when he has finished preparing his land at Pika.

With all the sun and rain, there is such scope for solar power and reusing rainwater, but I am not sure how many people have taken advantage of it. When we visited the future in-laws of the family last Sunday, they showed us two wind turbines on the hill opposite their house. The people there are so remote that they don't have electricity yet, so have to rely on these, which is not a bad idea.

As for the simple things such as turning off the plug, well the annoying thing with french plugs is you can't turn them on and off, you have to pull them out. Plus they are a bit stiffer than UK ones, so they are usually left in, even in our flat I am sorry to say. It is quite funny to watch Bertie's Dad, who has a real thing about the light on our stairs being off, so he is constantly turning it off after us. But then he leaves the tv on as well as the light in his room!

One of the least green things here is the reliance on the car. Bertie's sister will drive to work...which is opposite LissaLou's school and therefore 5 minutes or less from our house! And she is not alone. The number of cars outside the school gates is horrendous, and a sight repeated all over the island. Do not try to drive here between 7.30-9.30 and 3.30-6pm. LissaLou often asks why we don't go to school in the car!

All the electrical goods (and some others) sold come with an eco tax included. This is quite helpful for seeing how much your purchase will affect the environment. So for example the tax on fridges is €10 but on washing machines is about €4. Funnily enough they do sell tumble driers here but they are not really a necessity, although the rain does mean drying time is longer.


kirsty said...

Hello, me lovely! Did you know that you can compost paper and cardboard? Perhaps that might come in useful at Pika! It rots down beautifully with veg peelings.

Glad to hear that all is well... luvvin' to you all

Hevs said...

Ah, now there's an excellent suggestion! I hadn't thought of it before, but there isn't a compost at Pika. Unless they use what the pig doesn't eat. If the greedy thing leaves anything. I know they use the cow's doodahs as fertiliser, I wonder if they use the pig's too?