This is part of the Citizens of the Fort series, where we highlight Earth conscious folks that are taking a stab and saving the planet in their own unique way. From videographers to tiny home dwellers; each Citizen is building a path to a more sustainable world.
Oh Allegra, Allegra, my Parisan friend that I have never met!
When I first started my zero waste life there were no people of color navigating in the waste-free online community.
Luckily, I stumbled across Allegra's Instagram for her blog, Small et Beautiful. Although Allegra wouldn't consider herself a full time zero waster, she definitely wastes far less than most.
Small et Beautiful has great tips on minimizing your belongs, approaching minimalist decor, and shopping the secret zero waste-friendly markets in Paris.
Check out my interview with Allegra below.
How long have you been zero wasting ? How did your tiny apartment inspire your zero waste life ?
I’m still on a journey towards zero… 5 years ago I swore off plastic and paper bags when I realized, after one year in my new place, that the bags were slowly taking over. I have a 25 square meters apartment and a 25 years mortgage. So each year I buy one square meter of the place, it may as well be dedicated to something worthwhile. The bags made me give a hard look into what I was actually bringing in. I had been quite minimal in my furnishing, but with clothes and hair products and books… Not so. I started reducing my spending, editing a lot. Buying second hand. Buying in bulk. Then reading « No impact man » had a big impact on me : seeing life as a big experiment, that’s what moves me.
How does Paris embrace zero waste life ?
It is notorious that we french folks don’t readily embrace change. We sure did readily embrace supermarkets and fast food chains, though. Some traditional shops selling in bulk still exist, not as many as in other mediterranean countries, but there are wonderful gem. We have more and more organic coops selling in bulk. Paris has fantastic markets, two of them organic. Buying in a filet is back in style. Using tissues in actual fabric will not raise eyebrows, saying that you don’t use shampoo, will.
We just come out of a week-long strike, the streets were already a mess after two days. Two days ! We need to get a grip. A pop-up store called Biocoop 21 opened ahead of COP 21, it invites people to bring their own containers or invest in reusable ones. It’s an exciting time.
Can you give a story of a childhood memory connecting with nature
I am a city girl. In my family we do not camp. When I was 10, we visited cousins in the Canadian Rockies. Their favourite outing was camping in natural parks, I did not exactly see the point : there would be no stove, no shower, there might even be wild animals. And in order to clean-up, we would just dip in a stream. Say what ? Cold water ? I remember that stream on a fresh summer morning, a small river running from the glaciers, the quiet when I dipped in. The awe of feeling I was part of something majestic.
Favorite smell in nature?
I would say jasmin
Favorite lyric inspired by nature, or the mentions nature?
It’s from French thinker Pierre Rabhi : «We will have to answer our true calling, that not to produce and consume till the end of our lives, but to love, admire et take care of life in all its forms .»
The day it clicked…
I was shopping. Browsing clothes in this very cool showroom that sold wax clothes in my neighborhood. They had a small marketplace going on, that day. All the women entrepreneurs had beautiful afro hair, they were presenting natural products. One lady was doing hair as well as selling her own line of dreadlocks accessories. I asked her if i could have twists without extensions. She had to say no, my hair was relaxed, she could only work it with natural hair. I felt embarrassed. It may sound silly but I had thought for so long that my hair needed to be tamed with toxic, burning, time-consuming, expensive chemical treatments to look the way I wanted. I started questionning advertising and the industry, after that. I went natural.
Top 3 environmental issues on your mind right now?
Sorry, it’s all about COP 21 right now. On September 26-27 we were 60 000 at the Alternatiba festival of alternatives on the square of la République to show we know solutions to the climate crisis exist, we just need to enact them. The banquet, a free zero waste meal with intercepted fruits and vegs that were destined to the bin, fed 6100 guests. Now 40 000 militants are coming from everywhere for the climate conference. People from the Philippines for instance, islands that might be submerged. France has reinstated checks at borders with our UE neighbours Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain just for the occasion to control entrances. Militants from Subsaharan Africa, that don't benefit from visa waivers like the US do.