On the 15th of March, the youth, from school-age to university students, took to the streets in countries across the globe to strike for the climate calling upon political action in order to stay within the 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius target set out in the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. In Geneva, crowds of people, including a number of IHEID students, descended onto the city centre in solidarity of the movement pioneered by Greta Thunberg – a remarkable 16-year-old Swedish high school student has very recently been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in the movement. Regardless of whether you attended the strike or not, there is a call for taking on more sustainable habits or alternatives in our daily lives to do your own individual part in the grander scheme of things.
With companies and products promoting sustainability now as the new selling and marketing point for their products, the concept is clearly on trend at the moment – as it clearly should be. But how can we practice a more sustainable lifestyle?
We all know the general ways to be sustainable like recycling, taking public transport or biking and walking as much as possible, having a reusable water bottle or coffee cup but what sustainable solutions does Geneva offer?
Partage is a foundation created in 2005 which collects unsold produce from the large distributors in Geneva like Migros, Coop and Manor. They then distribute the food collected to charities and other social organisations; there are many opportunities to volunteer in the distribution and collection of produce alike. Continuing on the trend of food, TooGoodToGo, a Danish app launched a few years back in Geneva. It partners up with restaurants and bakeries to sell their unsold produce at a reduced rate that users can order through the app and collect at designated times. The app has a variety of restaurants and is a great way to be both more eco-conscious as well as scoring some good food at a discounted price – a win-win for students!
The many weekly markets in Geneva and neighbouring France are also a good way to buy produce without additional packaging that is often from local farms, organic and seasonal – every Saturday, market stalls close off Boulevard Helvétique for the Marché de Rive as well as opening the Halles de Rive where you can find local butchers, fishmongers, fruit and vegetable stalls among other stalls. Other markets include le Marché des Grottes and le Marché de Plainpalais. For more information check out the city’s website (in French).
For many students living at Cité, you may have passed the Plaine de Plainpalais on Wednesdays and Saturdays when the flea market is on and probably seen just a bunch of plates that belong in a grandma’s house, but it’s a great place to score random trinkets like small furnishings such as frames and decorations as well as clothes. Buying secondhand or vintage clothes is a good way to be more environmentally conscious whilst still fulfilling the shopping itch. In particular, there’s one gentleman who sells various different clothing items for 2chf a piece (although to get a better deal, he reduces the price to 1chf on Wednesday).
A movement in Carouge, Carouge Zero Déchet, aims to make Carouge the first zero waste Swiss city and has a useful database of stores that sell organic products and products without packaging. They also hold informal apéro sessions in collaboration with Zero Waste Switzerland that all are welcome to come to learn more and discuss about sustainability and zero waste with others. During each session, they teach attendees how to make a zero-waste product. You can find a list of their upcoming workshops here.
Of course, no article on sustainability can go without mentioning our very own Environmental Committee at IHEID, which holds many events and surely has a lot of other tips for you to be more sustainable in Geneva. These, however, are a few that are a nice way to experience the city a bit which doesn’t always seem to be the easiest place to be environmentally conscious.
If you wanna leave an additional impact with your consumption, consider prioritizing seasonal fruit and veggies. Switzerland has lots to offer when it comes to food (granted, it’s less exciting during the winter, where you’ll be confined to eating cabbage, carrots and apples for four months, but summer’s approaching). For an overview of what is seasonal in Switzerland when, check out this: https://www.gemuese.ch/Calendrier-des-saisons (in German and French, but with illustrations which might help).