Sustainability is in my blood
When I was young, I was living in a tiny village in Brittany. That is in the western part of France. Everyone in Vildé-Bidon was living in full harmony with nature, well almost everyone.
I was born in the 60s, went to a small school and like the rest of Europe and the world, life was getting better. They called that period "les 30 glorieuses" referring to the 30 years of prosperity that followed the second world war. In our small village, traditions were still very strong. Loads of farms were tiny and some still used horses. Don't get me wrong, the tractors were making their way in the community along with the freezer and the télévision. But in my view, the biggest change was the arrival of plastic.
For generations, we were all used to reusing food containers such as glass bottles, jars and wood crates. All that stuff had a value, and remember me and my twin brother going around on our bicycle to collect litre bottles discarded or left behind and bring them back to the Epicerie du village, Monsieur Lemé. One Franc per bottle we got, and one Franc went a long way in sweet and the like. And then it all stopped. The bottles were made of plastic and had no value for kids like us anyway. It is crazy when you think about it. Plastic is such a fantastic material, such a great invention and yet it was produced for single use only. What was also crazy is that it became the norm so quickly.
In the 70s and 80s, I was taking part in plastic consumption like everyone else in the world. It was completely accepted. One got a plastic bag, used it once and disposed of it. In the space of one generation, we got so comfortable with it.
But at that time, I had started noticing that my dad was washing and drying the bags he got, and eventually reused them. Of course, at the time I thought it was a complete waste of time and energy but that image of the drying plastic bag of all sizes on the drying line stuck with me. You see, he had started doing that when plastic bags were first used for the 20 kg of Guérande salt he used for his charcuterie. And the same went on with plastic buckets and containers. It all stemmed from his upbringing and traditions I suppose. He saw value in that fantastic material. What a lesson it has been.
Nowadays, I remember that lesson in my business. As a food producer, I received a lot of products in plastic packaging but I re-use them when possible: I give the 20-litre plastic drums to a local fisherman who uses them as buoys or fishing pots.
I give my 5 litres plastic buckets to a local artisan for storage purposes. I am proud to carry on the sustainability tradition. Merci Papa et Maman.