Inspired by the scene above (photo taken in Villedieu), this edition is devoted entirely to green! Today we are focusing on recycling and we are sharing tips on how to be eco-friendly. Please don't hesitate to send in your ideas & eco experiences, via the comments box, for all to see (and use!). Also, don't forget to take today's "green poll", just below.

If you happen to be in or near London this Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, then Jean-Marc and I would really love to see you at the Barbican Centre--where we'll be participating in the French Winegrowers Fair. It is not too late to get free tickets to this event. Click this link for more information.

~~~~~~~~~Domaine Rouge-Bleu... in Portland!~~~~~~~~
"Un air de Provence" (Mistral) has arrived in Portland, OR! You will find our latest wine release at PastaWorks. Email Peter [email protected] or call the stores to make sure they have some "Mistral" : Hawthorne: 503 232 1010 - City Market : 503 221 3002
Today's Word:
vert,e (ver, vert) adjective
    : green; unripe; vigorous; sharp; spicy (saucy)
vert (noun) = green
[from the Latin "viridis"]

Please take a minute to answer this "green" poll:


            "Recycling... or Le Traitement des Déchets"*

Up until last month, there was this nagging guilt that seized me each and every time I headed toward the trash can, plastic, glass, or carton in hand.

Ever see a film in slow motion? That's how the would-be recyclable trash fell: lentement.* Those cartons of milk, jam jars, tin cans of corn, and plastic shampoo bottles eventually tumbled to a halt at the top of the trash heap...and if I listened to their silent screams on the way down--instead of
covering my ears in denial--this is what the earth-clogging containers said: "Aïe!"*

That's right: "Ouch! You are hurting the Earth."

If our household underwent a lapse in recycling, this was partly due to logistics. We'd moved to a new French town, where the municipal recycling bins were...well, just where were they? Eventually, we learned the where, when, and how of the way things work around here... it was just a matter of re-organization... and the will to recycle.

Now that we're back on the recycling track, I find it helps keep motivation levels up when we maintain an open dialogue about déchets... This morning at the breakfast table, I asked my children for "green tips," or "les astuces écologiques". Here are the first things that came to their mind.

1. trier*
2. prendre une douche au lieu d'un bain*
3. aller en velo*

Can you help add to this list? Please share your "astuces", or ideas, on how to "go green!" Thank you for using the comments box so that we might all profiter.*

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
le traitement (m) des déchets
= waste treatment; lentement = slowly; aïe! = ouch!; trier = to sort; prendre une douche au lieu d'un bain = to take a shower instead of a bath; aller en velo = to go by bike; profiter = (benefit) to take advantage of

Audio File:

  Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the word "vert" and read the following list: Download vert.wav .Download vert.mp3

French Terms & Expressions
  le feu vert = green light
  les légumes verts = green vegetables
  les plantes vertes = evergreens
  le chêne vert = holm oak
  en dire de vertes et des pas mûres = to tell spicy stories
  se mettre au vert = to go on a country retreat
  la langue verte = slang

Terms & Expressions (English to French):
  green power = la puissance (f) de l'argent
  green revolution = la révolution (f) verte
  green room = le foyer (m) des acteurs / artistes
  greengrocer = le (la) marchand(e) des fruits et légumes
  greenhorn = le blanc-bec (m)
  greenhouse = la serre
  the greenhouse effect = l'effet de serre
  green gas = le gaz contribuant à l'effet de serre
  greening = la sensibilisation (f) à l'environnement
  Greenland = Groenland

Know any other words & expressions with the word "vert" or "verte". Thanks for sharing them here.

A Rapper with a Recycling message, don't miss this video:

You don't have to like rap music to appreciate this eco reminder:

"Les grands discours c'est bien. (Eloquent speeches are good.)
Mais les petits gestes c'est mieux." (But little gestures are better.)

Read the rest of the lyrics, below. Video tip: if the sound is garbled or staticky adjust the volume!

PS: If anyone would like to volunteer to translate the lyrics... then thank you for sharing your English version via the comments box! Update: Thank you Leslie, for translating this song! If this link doesn't work, then scroll down through the comments for Leslie's English version.

"On n'a qu'une Terre" by Stress*

Quand il sera grand et me demandra
"Pourquoi y a plus de poissons dans la mer?"
Je vais dire quoi? Que je savais pas!
Ou que j'en avais rien à faire!

Et quand il me demandra
"Papa! Est-ce juste pour le bois
que vous avez rasé le poumon de la planète?
J'vais respirer avec quoi?"

J'aurais l'air d'un irresponsable, incapable.
D'un coupable au comportement inexcusable.
Une nature bousillée, un monde de CO2.
Est-ce vraiment le futur
que l'on voulait construire pour eux?
Ca commence par le respect et l'une des choses à faire,
c'est un commerce équitable pour eux, nous et notre terre.
Les grands discours c'est bien.
Mais les petits gestes c'est mieux.
La différence on doit la faire aujourd'hui,
car on le peut.

Vas-y consomme! Consomme. Consume, consume!
Tronçonne, tronçonne! Allume, allume!
Mais que fais-tu si notre futur
s'retrouve entre le marteau et l'enclume.
Si ça brûle et que ça s'consume.
Et qu'notre terre ressemble à la lune.
Que fais-tu si notre futur
s'retrouve entre le marteau et l'enclume.

Dites-moi pas que vous le voyez pas, qu'vous le sentez pas.
Ce changement. Ne me mentez pas.
Le climat part en vrille. Vous attendez quoi?
Combien de Katrinas nous faudra-t-il pour accepter ça?

Je veux pas marcher sur le sol d'une mer asséchée en me disant
"J'aurais peut-être dû trier mes déchets".
À mes yeux c'est une erreur, aux yeux de nos enfants un péché.
Tout le monde crie au drame mais personne n'a l'air pressé.

Je veux pas voir le jour où l'eau aura la valeur du pétrole.
Où le pétrole ne sera plus.
Mais on payera encore pour ces bémols.
Je ne suis pas devenu "Monsieur Écolo" c'est clair.
Mais avec ce que je sais aujourd'hui,
je peux faire mieux que hier.

*by the band "Stress"

Green Card (film)

Les Oeufs Verts au Jambon: The French Edition of Green Eggs and Ham

The Vert ( Green Tea ) by Roger & Gallet 6.6 oz Fragrant Water Spray

A L'Affiche: Best of Les Négresses Vertes

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1. Paypal or credit card
2. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


My goodness; this past Saturday was Recycle America Day! I sat at a table at our local recycling center, encouraging kids and adults to take a little quiz to see how much they knew about recycling (how long does it take for a recycled aluminum can to be repurposed? etc.). I was amazed at just how many people recycle in our relatively small community.

I've been to Villedieu; a very relaxing place it is, too.


Chère Kristin,

Voici les petits gestes que je fait à la maison:

- Je reutilise l'eau de lavage de salade et legumes pour arroser mes plantes vertes. Prochainement, je vais acheter un tonneau pour récuperer l'eau de pluie.
- Ca fait plus de trois ans, je n'utilise plus le seche linge.
- Je ne laisse pas les appareils en veille.

Malheuresement, je suis loin quelqu'un de très ecolo. Quand je suis seule à la maison, parfois je laisse la télé allumer pour faire de bruit de fond, juste me tenir compagnie. C'est nul, hein?
Ouf, en tout cas, j'essaye...

Je t'embrasse très très fort.

Un jour, je vais t'ecrire mes joies et mes peines de vivre ici en France.

Norma Gosling

Hi Kristin,
I have a good tip here if you are able to light a fire instead of turning on the Chauffage- save the corks from your empty wine bottles and put them in a large Cornichon jar or something similar, then top up the jar with alcohol a bruler. This should be left to 'mature' for several weeks, ideally months, if you get started early in the summer season. Pop a 'mature' cork into the prepared fireplace, and with a single match - voila!

Rex Bavouset

I use compact fluorescent light bulbs or Light Emitting Diodes (LED) light bulbs to save electricity. The city where I last lived also allowed me to purchase wind generated electricity from the city owned utility company. This allowed me to recharge my battery powered lawn mower with alternative energy. Alas, my new city is not advanced and does not have green energy choices. However I still try my best to conserve energy whenever possible.
Also not only should we take showers as your child suggested, but we should use low-flow shower heads.
Many people do not realize how much money they can save when they take these conservative measures.
Thanks for making more people aware of green issues.

merci beaucoup!


Pennsylvania recycles! Every week the recycling truck picks up everyone's sorted items.


Jules Greer

Hi Kristi,
Loved your message, you are so cool, great
way to turn a message that has been around for awhile into something fresh and new. Think of all the French words I could learn and pronounce if i could rap that song. Also, Your photo is beautiful and now I must
paint this for you.


I try my best to avoid using plastic bags and take my own shopping bag or basket to the supermarket or open market. I have a little folded up cloth sac that I keep in my purse but sometimes I forget to put it back there again. If I do forget, I save the plastic grocery sac and use it to pick up my dog's 'crotte'. There's an 11 euro fine in my town for not doing so. If all else fails, I clean up using a few big leaves! The utlimate eco-geste ; )

Susan Walter

The strapline for the recycling company where we are is 'Dans la pays de Descartes, je trie donc je suis' (In the land of Descartes, I sort therefore I am). Made me chuckle. It is really very clever on several levels.

Evelyn Kimber

I believe that the most meaningful way to "go green" is to go vegan.

The United Nations FAO Report of 11-20-06 concluded that livestock production contributes more to global warming than all transportation combined.

Production of meat, dairy, and eggs (animal agriculture) devastates the envirnoment, eroding topsoil, polluting waterways and the air, causing deforestation and desertification of vast areas of land.

Meat, dairy, and eggs are a highy inefficient way to feed populations, wasting food resources as large amounts of plant protein are funneled through animals to yield small amounts of animal protein.

Go green = go vegan!


Things that we do to be more "green"

1. Programmable thermostat - the termperature is brought down at night while we sleep, brought up just a few degrees for the morning time where we are getting ready, goes even lower during the day, is at its warmest in the evening.
2. Turn off electrical appliances not in use.
3. I try to use my heated oven to the max. If I plan on baking dinner and know I will make a pie/cookies or other baked good later, I do them one right after the other so the oven doesn't have to cool down to just to heat up again.
4. Same as number 3 but for the dryer. I run the loads one right after the other to make the most of the heat already generated.


Je ne jette JAMAIS les piles à la poubelle


My half French daughter sent me this "green" French sentence word play:
Vers le vert verre ver. Which is funnier said outloud, and translates as "Towards the green glass worm"


In our suitcase for our trip back to Paris, we packed our little fold up nylon sacs that we got at Monoprix last year. Today, when I went to BHV, I took a sac and when I presented at the caisse saying "j'ai mon sac" she smiled and responded "bon." One of our many ways to help Mother Earth is to bring our own sacs whenever we shop for anything.


Hi Kristin,

Lovely photo, as usual, very well spotted! The green paint and green shrubs make a wonderful contrast with the gorgeous grey stones!

No time to translate the song now, so I thought I would have a go at some WORDS & EXPRESSIONS with the word "vert".

Un CHÊNE VERT. The “chêne vert” I planted in my front garden (holm oak) is called “Quercus ilex”. We call it “Evergreen oak”. It is perfectly adapted to coastal areas, so it's fine for where we live. What I like about it is that it grows easily, responds well to a bit of clipping (once a year) and can be grown as a tall hedge -- just the sort of "green screen" we were looking for, and such a perfect blend with evergreen Viburnum Tinus... variegated Eleagnus, a large and pretty Pittosporum, and some simple acid-green griselinias (latest additions planted 5 years ago and doing very well). Blessed “evergreens”!

LES PRODUITS VERTS = Eco products, respecting the environment.

THE GREENS = Les députés verts, les militants écologistes.

THE VILLAGE GREEN = Terrain communal. In England, it is an area of green grass right in the middle of a village, often going back to the Middle Ages.

-> to give (someone) THE GREEN LIGHT --> donner le feu vert / la permission (à quelqu'un)
-> to be GREEN (BEHIND THE EARS) --> être naif / être novice / être sans expérience
-> the GREEN-EYED MONSTER = la jalousie
-> to be GREEN WITH ENVY --> être jaloux
-> to have GREEN FINGERS (UK) --> avoir la main verte, être “bon jardinier”. I think in the US, the equivalent is “GREEN THUMB”.
-> the GREEN CARD --> la Carte de séjour permettant aux étrangers de vivre & travailler aux Etats-Unis

I'm sure there are other words and expressions to add up.
Must go, so I'll stop here but I promise to send you another post about what we do at home to be more “green”.


When visiting Paris this past March, I purchased nylon shopping bags at Monoprix for .99 E, for all my friends back home. The come in a little pouch with a Velcro closer. A tiny little packet that fits in your hand bag and carries as much as one of those plastic grocery bags.


Le Vert Galant (in Paris)


As much as I miss it, we stopped getting a newspaper since most are online now. Sure cut down on our paper pile, not sure if it helps the earth though since they probably didn't print less papers on our account... also, it helps to buy some really fun recycling containers and designate a spot for it in your house or garage. Put a poster of the planet earth nearby with a picture of your little one, reminds you why you're going through all the trouble!


Close up your entire house and move to Paris for two years - live in a ground floor (rez de chaussez) apartment so you won't need AC in the summer!! The energy saved is phenomenal! And while in Paris use the Metro, the Bus, a Velo or your own bike. Also carry your .80 centime "Monoprix" nylon recylcing bag where ever you go. And don't forget to take the "empty" "Rouge-Bleu" wine bottles to the corner green-giant bin!


I live in Vermont and we have been recylcing forever. It just seems natural. Besides all the above that has been mentioned, we recycle all our vegetable scraps by putting them in an outdoor composting bin that we add leaves to. In the spring, voila - soil for our gardens.

La Mom


I've started using white vinegar to clean all kinds of surfaces (even rugs!). I've made a real effort to go green since my French Fries were born!

La Mom
An American Mom in Paris


We have been "recycling" antiques and vintage household items and furniture for many years. Finding new uses for items found in the neighbors' trash is also fun - and 'green'. In addition to using CFL bulbs, taking our own cloth sacks to the grocery, and participating in our city's recycling program, we also donate clothing that is no longer used, to the Salvation Army and Rescue Mission several times a year.


On a weekly basis, I receive produce that is organic and locally grown (with few exceptions). For those in the Portland, Ore. area, you can order it through organicstoyou.org. Not only does it cut down on transportation of the produce, it supports the local economy.

I walk every where I can, and the reusable grocery bags come in very handy when I have to walk 5 blocks home with a heavy load. Especially because it takes many, many years of use before they start to tear.

While I do drive a car to work most days, my car gets 40-45 mpg. Other days, I will sometimes ride my bike the 21 miles round trip to one of my work locations. If possible, I take light rail or the streetcar.

When I'm on the go, I use nalgene water bottles and travel coffee mugs. Yes, I've heard the dangers of using hard plastic water bottles, but I figure I'll take the risk until I get one of the metal water bottles.

The city helps by picking up recycling every week, as well as the electric company offering "green energy". The only sorting we have to do is glass from anything else that is recyclable.

I reuse the other side of paper from work for personal use (and recycle paper that has been used on both sides).

I live in an old apartment building that uses a boiler to heat the place. It is only turned on during the winter months (so there are blankets on every seat) and only for a few hours a day.

Also, rather than throw out things I don't need anymore, I find ways to allow others to use it. Put a "free" box in the laundry room, sell used books to Powell's, DVDs and CDs to Everyday music, donate used furniture to a charity that gives them to people furnishing their homes, or even the Goodwill. I also try to borrow things or buy them used when I can. It helps me save money as well!


My try at translation of On n'a qu'une terre

When he grows up and he asks me
Why are there no more fish in the sea?
What will I say, that I didn't know
Or that it had nothing to do with me?

And when he asks
Papa! was it just for the wood
that you mowed down the forests that helped the planet breathe?
What will help me breathe?

I'd look irresponsible, powerless
Guilty of behaving unforgivably.
Nature ruined, a world of CO2
It that really the future
We wanted to build for them?
It starts with respect, and one thing to do
Is fair trade, for them, for us, for the earth
Big speeches are fine, small actions better
The difference we must make today
Because we can

Go on, consume! Consume! Use, use it up!
Cut, cut it down! Burn it, burn it
But what will you do if it's our future
Between the hammer and the anvil.
If it's burned and consumed.
And our earth looks like the moon.
What will you do if it's our future
Between the hammer and the anvil.

Don't tell me you don't see it, don't feel This change. Don't lie to me.
The climate is in tailspin What are you waiting for?
How many Katrinas will it take until we accept that?

I don't want to walk on the bottom of a dried-up sea, saying to myself
"I should have sorted my trash."
In my eyes it's a mistake, in the eyes of our children, a sin.
Everyone sounds the alarm, but no one seems in a hurry to do anything

I don't want to see the day when water costs as much as gas
And there is no more gas.
But we'll keep paying for these warnings.
I'm no Mr. Ecology, that's for sure, but with what I know today
I can do better than yesterday.


Here in Phoenix, AZ water is always precious. Many years ago, my clever husband hooked up our washing machine with a large hose normally used for draining swimming pools (which we do not have) and we put this hose out near the big olive tree and flower bed and lawn and let all of that laundry water do our watering for us on wash days. This tree, which my father originally planted from a seed, is now tremendous and just loves that water which otherwise would have just gone down the drain.


I think everything I do to recycle is already listed in someone else's comment! But that's a good thing, right?! I use energy-saving lightbulbs. I wash my clothes only in cold water. I bring home paper from the office to use with my own computer or as notepaper. I use the recycling bins the city gives us for the curbside recycling. I have shopping bags from www.envirosax.com that are lightweight enough to roll up and carry in my purse so that I always have them with me. Our furnace is on a programmable thermostat, but in the summer we try to use the AC as little as possible.
Cincinnati has had a Xmas-tree composting program for years.
And last but not least, I preach preach preach to my friends, family and co-workers about their wasteful ways. They soon learn that the best way to shut me up is to go along.


I have done many of the things listed above.  I take the subway to work.Things we have to do can be done in a more ecological way.  For example, if you have lots of dishes and use a dishwasher, run full loads.  Otherwise, wash by hand - saves both water and electricity.  For clothes, run full loads, or if for some reason the amount of laundry is less, adjust the water quantity on the clothes washer so less is used.

We recycle as much as we can via town pickup. The town also collects leaves and turns them into mulch instead of burning them.

Turn thermostat WAY down at night, and keep it low all the time in winter; use warmer clothes or throws to keep warm. When weather isn't too hot or cold, open windows instead of using heat or AC.

I could go on. The main point is for us all to think about the effects of our actions, and find ways to use less, recycle more, and avoid waste of any kind.

Pamela Normand

Kristin, what a fun way for young people and those of us not so young to learn french, through rap music. I hope the french teachers out there take advantage of the song, On n'a qu'une terre. I think Leslie did an excellent job translating, it even rhymed a bit in English. I tried to learn the repeating chorus, replaying it atleast 5 times. I think I might eventually get it but, not without a lot of practice.

dorothy dufour

As a country child during the Great Depression, recycling was a way of life, although we all burned too much. Food was of course "bottled", and jam jars reused. Canned goods were rare. i don't know what happened to cans before garbage pickup. Later I brought up my family in Tsawwassen BC where forward thinkers started a recycling programme about 25 years ago. Today in Vancouver there is a remarkable enviromental activist named David Susuki. He heads a foundation, and recently found that Europe is WAY ahead of North America in renewable resources, like wind power and methane use. Dorothy, Abbotsfoed, BC

suki in vail

I grew up in Boulder Colorado, so I have literally been recycling for over 30 years. I don't know what FINALLY made the corporations of world wake up and realize they need to go green,(or at least promote that they are green) but thank goodness it is finally happening.
I do most of the above suggestions.....recycle, re-use, donate, use cloth bags at stores(been doing that for 25 years!),etc. I even go to the Post Office at night and take the magazines out of the trash and put them into the recycling bins that are RIGHT NEXT to the trash. People are just too lazy to put their junk mail thru that little slot.

did you know that your cell phone chargers, battery chargers, etc, suck just as much energy when they are charging your phone/battery, as they do while they are just plugged in charging nothing?? They do. Same with all the audio/video/TV equipment-- suck energy even if you aren't watching it. A suggestion is to have them all on a power strip that you can turn off when not using.

suki in vail

P.S. a few more tips for those in the U.S. to cut down on your junk mail:
1.Go to Mail Preference Service of Direct Marketing Association (dmachoice.org) and click on "Remove my name from these lists". this should cut down on 80% of unsolicted mail in 4 months.
2. Don't fill out registrations for new products (unless you want recall alerts), also do not sign up for contests or sweepstakes.
3. Register at optoutprescreen.com or phone toll free 1-888-567-8688, to stop the pre-approved credit offers.
4. Remain anonymous when you sign up for grocery store loyalty programs.
5. Phone catalog companies and ask them to stop sending you unwanted catalogs. OR opt out at catalogchoices.org
6. when purchasing something online or on the phone,make sure they will not be selling your address to other catalogs.

I know this is a long list, but any of these actions will help cut down on junk mail( that WE are paying for with all these postage increases!!)


Of course my tip is...


And of course using a cute reusable bento box will help motivate you.

Harvey In Huntington

A simple way to conserve millions of gallons of gasoline. I call it BUBYS which stands for Buckle Up Before You Start. If more people became conscious of when they started their engines, they'd realize that fuel is wasted by an idling engine while 3-10 seconds are spent in the process of buckling up. N'est pas?

D'Neal in Keizer, Oregon, USA

Join a local Freecycle group...


...and use it to get rid of things you no longer need or use. Freecycling can be a lot of fun. We picked up a new (to us) freezer from a man who's renters left it behind in their apartment when they left. He was eager to get it out of his way so he could get the apartment ready to rent again...and we were happy to oblige. :-) And we passed along an old patio table umbrella that looked pretty tacky but was still capable of providing shade. The woman who came and got it was thrilled. She wanted it for her 86-year-old father who was recovering from surgery and liked to sit outside on the warm afternoons, at the table/chairs she had obtained from another freecycler. We also exchanged "bonus" items. She raises chickens and had a carton of fresh eggs for me, and I gave her about a quart of blueberries from our bushes in the back yard. Also used Freecycle to dispose of several of my late aunt's household possessions and craft projects. She was very frugal and I know she would be happy that they went to people who actually needed or wanted those very things.


My whole college is very into "going green", to the point where some students have started making jokes about "Marlins Go Green", which is becoming our virtual motto. However, I think it's a wonderful idea.

One of the interesting ways we have "gone green" (sort of) is in Smithdeal, one of the dorm halls on campus: the roof has been replaced by a "green" roof or "living" roof. This would take too long to explain (and I don't fully understand it myself) but it seems to be a thick layer of sod and plants that insulates the building and saves heating and cooling costs.

All our dorm rooms (supposedly) have a recycling bin in them to encourage us to recycle, and there's a big recycling bin on the hall to empty them into when they get full. Each year, the freshmen are given a large reusable plastic travel mug, which they can fill with coffee or other hot drinks in the cafeteria and thus save paper cups. And this year, we started a "trayless initiative" in the cafeteria, which means that all of the plastic trays we used to use have been eliminated. This actually helps go green because a) the kitchen workers don't have to wash nearly as many things (those trays got REALLY dirty) and b) the lack of tray helps eliminate food waste, since students can only take as much as they can carry in two hands at any one time.


Hello Kristin

We built an earthship in Ger, about 40 mins drive from Villedieux and finished this summer. It is a completely self-
sustaining house called Perrine. Please have a look at our website if you are interested.

Thanks very much for your French Word a Day site, very much appreciated.

Gillian Trott
Earthship France


We started to get serious about Recycling at least 20 years ago, separating glass bottles, metal (mainly tins), plastic bottles, newspapers. There is a well established Council collection but limited to old newspapers, tins and glass. I tear cardboard packaging, tear or shred paper of all sorts, collect and tie together Tetra Pak boxes (aluminium foil lining), crush soft plastic containers & fill up separate sacks kept in the garage. I take them to recycling “Banks” in town or to the local pit where we also get rid of bulky general household, old goods of any sort ... What a fantastic place, well organised! (got recently a free garden fork someone threw away...)

Ten years ago, I bought a special compost bin for the kitchen peelings. We built a compost area at the back of the garden, using wooden pallets we got free from a brick merchant. We learned how to make compost properly. We bought a good garden shredder. Clippings, shredded foliage (except Phormium leaves -> they end up in garden waste at the local pit) and shredded thin branches get mixed into the compost. We add ashes from the woodburner. Mother Nature approves (!) and when the compost is ready, our garden gets all the benefit!

I taught the children how to brush their teeth without letting the tap running ... We stopped having baths in ... 1992! and completely switched on to “quick” showers. We didn't install a dishwasher in our refurbished kitchen. When I needed to buy a new washing machine, and new fridge-freezer, I selected items with A+ for Economical and Ecological Efficiency. I always washed clothes at low temperature, and I reached the next step a few months ago -> I reduced rinsing water and stopped using laundry detergent and conditioner, replacing them by a set of 3 “Original EcoBalls”. I buy Eco friendly products and recently bought a few Eco Friendly Cleaning Cloths as well – they need no creams or chemicals and work brilliantly, just with water.
Last Spring, we installed our first water butts ... a set of 3x 100L and a set of 2x200L and now we have plenty of rain water available, it's great! The plants are happy, and so are we.

I stopped using supermarket plastic bags years ago. I buy Energy Saving Light Bulbs, recycled Notepads (with covers that used to be juice cartons, or tyres, or plastic bags...). I burn logs in a woodburner. In my area, firewood is easily available and I get logs delivered in bulk. Heating with wood is environmentally friendly, economical and it reduces my use of our central heating. Old wood, non re-usable beams are sawn in suitable length and burnt in our woodburner. Recent addition: dry “paper logs” made with old newspapers + small size burnable waste. I make them with a wonderful “log maker” gadget that can also be used to make little paper pots for seedlings. Old clothes or curtains in good condition are given away to charity – if not in good condition, I cut out zips and buttons and drop the material in a recycling bank for that purpose. I buy local products organically grown. I am now using public transport as much as I can. For the second year running, all our Xmas gifts (and wrapping) will be “green”, all bought online.
All in all, for us and the generations to come, it's vital to change our behaviour, think twice, reduce waste, re-use, buy "green" products, find green alternatives, save energy as much as we can, respect nature!


Hello again!

I loved reading everyone's post. It's all very encouraging. Thank you Kristin. You'll have to re-open the topic in 2018, to see how we've all progressed by then.....

See you on Friday afternoon at the French Wine Fair in London -- will be travelling by coach to Victoria, then will find my way to "the Barbican".


Thank you, Newforest (see you Friday!), and to everyone for submitting the helpful tips. Please keep them coming!

I have just finished sorting the contents of my office trash can, separating the individual pieces and getting them for *proper* disposal. The box that I had used for the trash can (a former moving box, from our 07' move) was then recycled into a handy shoe stand! (As most of the garbage was dry, nothing stuck to the walls!). Now, my husband's rubber working boots, his slippers, and his dress shoes are organized onto two "shelves" of the sturdy box.

Thank you again for the tips, which we are already incorporating into our routine. And mille mercis to Leslie for translating that rap song!

PS: D'Neal: your freecycle story brought tears while picturing the man sitting out under the tattered umbrella, happy to have shade. Merci!


Hello, I just purchased your book "Words in a French life" today, my goodness.. I've just started reading it and oh my is it amazing! I really love the way you have put together this book, it's really good. I am wondering if you are planning on writing another book? I am 1/4 French, and I am trying to find out more about my heritage. This book is truly inspiring! You should be proud!



The US is finally waking up to going green. Almost every super market here in CT has green bags to buy (and they are green) for bringing home your purchases, but they should start charging for plastic bags as they do in many stores in France . The stores post signs near the entrances reminding you to bring in your green bags and some give you a 5 cents refund for each bag.
We have always recycled out newspapers, cardboard, glass and plastics, although it is amazing how much plastic still is not recyclable!
I read an article which said that there is a group of scientists who are researching the amount of tiny plastic pieces found in fish's stomachs. We know that plastic does not break down!
We also bought an European washer and dryer. The washer uses less water, spins the clothes drier and therefore the dryer needs less time.
There are many other ways I could go greener but haven't: rake the leaves instead of blowing them, unplug appliances, drive less, don't use the dry cycle on the dish washer, etc. But we have set up a home gym so that I can work out at home instead of traveling 8 miles each way to a gym.
We must also: support legislation and legislators who support going green, buy green cars, shop locally and buy local products.


Well done with all of your website, it is so interesting to read, and your French word (every day or so) is excellent.

Here in County Durham, England, we have a twice monthly (every fortnight) collection by the local council for our cans, bottles, plastic, paper, cardboard, paper and the like. We have to sort and the council recycles. They provide the containers and we put them out every alternate Thursday. It's a way of life here.

Best wishes and bonne chance,



Incredible video by Stress...where can I buy it? I searched Google, ebay and Amazon as well as Stress' website...any other ideas? Thanks-Lisa Colorado, USA

JacquelineBrisbane (Oz)

Thanks one and all for your recycling tips! For years I felt like a small voice lost in the wilderness. Now I know, I AM NOT ALONE! When I lived in Alice Springs (NT) in the 80's, the Outback was littered with plastic bags. That's when I started saying No to plastic bags. It was hard as 'nutters' like me were treated as nuisances at the check out. Since living in drought afflicted Brisbane I recycle all my laundry water, bucket by bucket, into the garden or topping up the cistern instead of flushing with precious town water. The last rinse water is used for washing floors (with a dash of vinegar) or put back into the front-loader washing machine, jug by jug for the next load. I also make my own laundry soap. I built a chook-tractor our of black piping and other materials scrounged from various sources. I scour my local market for fresh local produce and relieve the stall holders of all the organic refuse I can carry in my Toyota Echo to make mulch and compost.

Kristin: dare I suggest another absorbing topic...., the use of natural foods, free of genetic engineering... ? :)

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