The Almost Neverending Recycling story
This is the B-side to my previous story about eating vegan food in Paris.
As we had been staying in the flat and cooking, we had accumulated quite a bit of recyclable waste. I thought I’d simply and swiftly dispose of it after leaving the flat myself. NOPE.
I left the building like a distorted backpacker, having my rucksack, handbag, recycling and bag of additional items to leave for the homeless family round the corner that I unfortunately never saw again.
I went to the recycling bell across the street: that was for glass containers only, and most of our waste was plastic and paper. D’oh.
I couldn’t see any recycling bins and hadn’t previously noticed any, so I asked a few local businesspeople if they could advise me where I could recycle.
I was met with expressions of widening eyes, and exclamations such as “recycling here? I don’t have a clue!”.
One lady told me it is mandatory for buildings with flats to have a recycling waste container – I went back to where we stayed, went to the basement, tried to open one of the doors, looked at the building’s map plan and searched for the waste area location – nothing.
I went back out and started walking around. Someone else advised me to go and ask at the town hall. Bref, it took me about an hour and a half of making my way there while looking for a recycling bin, to finally reach it for the second time that day.
I felt like by then I had to commemorate this adventure.
A few steps away from my recycling, there was a your girl posing and pouting rather ridiculously. There I was, taking a portrait of my recycling, who – yes, who – was probably laughing at me by then.
Feeling a bit silly because of the ridiculous amount of time I had spent with this bag of recycling, and trying not to get too attached to it, I walked to one of the grand entrances and asked the security guards where I could recycle it.
“Recycle? Oh, here in Paris recycling bins come out on specific days and times”.
“What about tourists and people walking around the rest of the time? Where can they put their recyclable rubbish outside those times?” I mean – people live – people consume – (most) people create waste – where to dispose of it?
His reply was about putting stuff in general waste bins. He then pointed at an overflowing yellow bin across the road and told me that would be a recycling one. The first one I had seen in an hour and a half of walking around the centre of the city. I was sent to the corner of the square where apparently there would be a big, common recycling bin, but people were busy setting everything up for the Euro championship and I was met by an impatient woman who did not, in fact,
gave a flying shit care quite so much about my urge to recycle.
I walked back and was going to take it all to the overflowing bin when one of the guards saw me and asked me if I had found the bin of my dreams. When I shouted over that I hadn’t, he signaled to go over – when I got within speaking distance he told me, quietly: “I don’t have much time and I’m not supposed to do this, but follow me!”.
Undercover recycling? I’m in.
Through the entrance and into the inner courtyard we went, feeling like a badass z-list eco-warrior. We went through one door: arghhh! Only glass recycling! WTF!
Came out, crossed the cobbled court, (as graciously badass a I could, with all the bags I was carrying, feeling like a 9-year old running after the school bus) – into another wing, looked around, round the corner, down the corridor…: ta-dahh!!
A massive, yellow, mixed recycling bin. “Voilá!”.
Fucking voilá indeed, excuse my French.
I emptied my reusable bag, our recycling landed in the bin in an almost slow motion manner, filling me with the same satisfaction as it would have to be adding the last decorative touch to a wedding cake the size of Sacré Cœur, hovering on top of it from a renewable energy-fuelled helicopter, with a bag of vegan icing.
I told the cool guard I didn’t understand why it had been so hard to recycle something in the centre of the city. The default answer I got again was “C’est Paris. I could see you really cared about it, so wanted to help for that reason”.
And that’s the ridiculous story about how I got to recycle in the most beautiful building of my recycling existence.
Have you felt like you were part of a Mission Impossible film when trying to recycle something in Paris or elsewhere?