You won’t look at your neighbors in the same way ever again

Posted on 24 February 2017.

Shared composting, community spaces, Accorderies... Here are some ideas for developing the circular economy at home and in your neighborhood.

Every single person in France produces about 350 kg of household waste per year - 30 to 40% of which is organic waste. Imagine the amount of biowaste that could be recovered if an entire building were to start "shared composting". According to Ademe, it refers to "all local composting operations (building, neighborhood, village), in which residents take responsibility for all or some of the installation and management of their site". In Europe, the first sites began appearing in the 1980s. And now many associations and communities are engaged in similar initiatives.

In 2010, Paris for example began offering all buildings, institutions and public organizations training and support from specialists. It even provides the equipment! By the end of 2014, 144 condominiums, 91 schools and 23 public organizations had made a commitment to recycling their bio-waste to make compost – and the city now recycles 30 kg of waste per person per year.

If the adventure tempts you, there are some conditions and rules for getting it going and keeping it going. You also need to be really motivated and be a good organizer to get your neighbors involved and create a really dynamic project.

--> Guide to shared composting, produced by Ademe (France)

Washing your dirty laundry with your neighbors

In new buildings, the design increasing includes shared spaces. Shared laundries, community gardens, co-working spaces and even car sharing... new ideas about what a neighborhood is and a reflection of how lifestyles are changing to embrace a more using and sharing approach. It is not necessarily a question of moving to the Machu Picchu residence in Lille. In your own neighborhood you can begin helping each other and sharing – for example household appliances and garden equipment. Remember, for example, that the average time spent using a drill during its entire lifespan is just twelve minutes!

"Optimizing the use of objects makes it possible to satisfy the needs of the same number of users, but reduces the number of objects in circulation,” explained a Cniid spokesperson. “This not only reduces pressure on the natural resources needed to produce the objects in the first place, but also reduces the amount of waste produced upstream during the production process and downstream at the end of the object’s useful life."

--> Guide to Collaborative Consumption

Joining the circle

Everywhere, local community actions are emerging. Getting involved in the circular economy in your neighborhood means firstly being curious about these local initiatives! It means knowing, for example, about the (sometimes very dense) network of organizations near you that will give a second life to your waste, or knowing where to go for a zero-waste lifestyle.

These local initiatives include:

- Going to a Repair Café to learn how to repair your stuff
- Getting involved in a Disco Soup - a lighthearted solidarity movement that appropriates public spaces and food waste to raise awareness about the issue
- Experiment with a new collaborative production system in a fab lab - digital manufacturing workshops where tools are made available to the public.
- Give your old computer to Emmaüs France, or exchange it through Eco-systèmes.

Getting your act together

Your most valuable resource is time! Born in Quebec in 2002, Accorderies are part of a "collaborative solidarity economy". There is a system for exchanging services in which the currency is time – the aim being to combat poverty and social exclusion by strengthening solidarity between people living in the same neighborhood.

Accordeurs make their skills and know-how available to other people - cooking advice, language lessons, help with household chores, etc. The time spent is counted up in a time bank on the basis of "one hour of service rendered is worth one hour of service received", regardless of the service rendered or the skills required. Any credited hours can be used to take advantage of services offered by other Accordeurs. Implemented in France under the aegis of the Macif Foundation, the movement quickly took off all over France. In 2016, the Paris-based network already had 29 Accorderies, more than 8000 Accordeurs and more than 30,000 hours exchanged.

--> Choose your Accorderie

What ideas do you have for a more circular way of life?