Branded waste bag
Not long ago my daughter’s school teacher asked children to bring used champagne corks for arts and crafts. That’s France! Having skipped the corks, I was happy to hear that this time the parents were asked to collect empty bottles and packaging. In order to o teach about the basics of waste disposal and recycling. They had three mini sized recycling bins in the class: a green one for compostable waste, a yellow one for packaging and a white one for glass bottles. Children were supposed to put the right waste in the right container. Excited, Laura hurried to school with her waist bag that I had carefully prepared the previous evening.
When the school day was over, I felt that something was wrong. She told me that other pupil’s waste had been different. Her classmates hadn’t been able to dispatch her waste because they couldn’t distinguish the orange juice bottle from laundry softener.
It didn’t take me much time to figure out what it was all about. Though well-off families gather in the Paris city center where we live, I still couldn’t believe I was the only mother who doesn’t buy name brands but much cheaper generic products. The French supermarkets place their brand products on the face level whereas a poor single mum find herself four legs on the ground looking for generics placed on the bottom shelf. Public schools are all right in the city center but this must be the price to pay. Another waist bag was expected the next school day. We didn’t have anything other than no-name brand waste. But then again it was a question of my daughter’s reputation. I didn’t care about mine.
Not just looking
I went out in the square behind Notre Dame Cathedral where tourists usually do their snacking. I heard the birdman arguing with a couple of Japanese tourists. He is one of Paris's tens and hundreds of street artists. I call him birdman because he has taught sparrows to sit on his arms, shoulders and head. Covered by birds he looks like a tree and attract tourists’ attention to get coins. He was yelling because he gave the whole show, fed the birds, let them sit on Japanese lady's hat and let the couple take pictures. Then the Japanese, apparently just wanted to say thanks and goodbye. Without giving one single coin. “Do you think that I’m paid by the Paris tourist office”, the man yelled. The Japanese stared at him with round eyes and polite smile, without understanding a word.
I checked the nearest public waist bin which was easy because after the terrorist attacks, all the public waist bins are now transparent plastic bags. I wandered from one waist bin to another, like shopping in a supermarket. I didn’t find any caviar or foie gras cans but managed to collect a clean Lu biscuits box, an empty Yoplait bottle and some name brand sweeties packaging. I headed back home, happy with my high social standing waste bag knowing that my daughter will now be the only one who can’t dispatch her waste.