In trying to get inspired by Earth Day, I've spent the last few days wondering if living in France has changed my outlooks about waste, consumption and my effectiveness at finding new uses for old things. France definitely has a more eco-friendly culture than the United States, for example I've noticed people generally have less as far as clothes or other material things are concerned. However I think this might stem from the fact that the cost of living is higher here. Overall, everything- from cars to the portions of food served- is much smaller than what I'm used to while in the States. Honestly, I don't think I've ever left the dinner table feeling 'stuffed' while in France, even if I've eaten a three-course meal. This has made me reconsider the ways I will approach consumption when I return home, and will probably stop me from going overboard when I finally have the chance to go to Target again!
In regards to Nantes, the city prides itself as being one of the most eco-friendly in Europe. In 2013 it was voted a European Green Capital because of its sustainable transport policies and its citizen's ever increasing use of public transportation and bicycles. The city itself is green, literally, as there are a plethora of gardens and parks for familys and friends to spend time together and a rather low number of skyscrapers clogging up the city space. Furthermore, being healthy in Nantes is much simpler for me than when I'm at home in Atlanta. In Nantes, I can easily find a quality supermarket or stop by a boulangerie if I need a quick pick-me-up as opposed to going to a fast food restaurant. Also, the European Union has stricter laws conerning the types of modifications that can be made to food, and how much carbon waste cars are allowed to produce. This protects citizens' health and forces a variety of corporations to keep their values in check.
Traveling abroad has made me even more critical of how the United States operates. The biggest shock I expect to face when I return home is how excessive things are. Huge cars, bigger sky scrapers, enourmous portions of food-the list goes on. My time in Nantes has reaffirmed the importance of living a healthier lifestyle and remaining conscious of how much I consume. When I return home I'm sure I will change a multitude of my consumption habits, but I don't know how these changes will manifest themselves yet.