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Op-Ed: Green reasons to consider moving to France

Moving to France in search of a better life is not new for Americans. Each year thousands of U.S. citizens move across the pond, drawn by the absorbing culture, delicious food, refined cities, excellent healthcare and leisurely life pace. But, in an increasingly environmentally conscious world, there are several other reasons why you should consider moving to France.

If you are one of the 35 percent of Americans currently considering moving abroad and you want to ensure your impact on our world is as minimized as possible, moving to France can offer you a plethora of green benefits.

France is at the forefront of the green car industry

While low-emission cars are becoming more common across the world, France is at the forefront of the electric vehicle industry. The French government is very supportive, distributing €100 million to research into low-carbon vehicles and emissions reduction. Many new laws that limit polluting cars in towns are further encouraging carbon-polluting habits to evolve, and France’s convoy of electric cars is the biggest in Europe and the third-largest in the world.

Many French car makers, like Peugeot Citroën and are committed to electric technology and provide around 75% of Europe’s electric vehicle market. Peugeot 3008 is the first successfully mass-produced hybrid diesel car in the world, and Renault also provides inexpensive, zero-emission cars like the Zoe. Further, Paris has the world’s first electric car hire, Autolib. These cars are fitted out with highly effective lithium metal polymer batteries, and have paved the way for other schemes such as Peugeot’s electric delivery vans.

France has a greener, healthier way of life

An active lifestyle is strongly encouraged in France and it is generally much easier to live a greener, healthier life than in the U.S. The French are very active, and walk and cycle rather than driving everywhere. This is partly due to how pedestrian-friendly the cities are, but is also a reflection of the French mentality; people really do prefer walking to driving, and taking the stairs rather than waiting for the elevator.

If you like the outdoors, you’ll find that France’s mild climate is ideal for you. Without as many weather extremes as the U.S, it is much easier to maintain this eco-conscious lifestyle throughout the year; the icy, sub-zero winters seen in many parts of the States can mean that a car is a necessity for the cold winter months. As a whole, the European way of life is greener than the American not because they care more about the environment, but because they have a different way of living. For example, living without a clothes dryer, air conditioner, microwave or even limitless hot water in the U.S. may feel like a hardship, but this is the norm in France, and indeed many other European countries.

Because these countries are much smaller than the U.S, their citizens naturally have a greater awareness of our negative impact on the planet. The smaller, older houses and apartments of France are greener by default, as the buildings have thick walls and shutters to minimize the heat rather than air con, and clothes-drying balconies rather than a dryer. Open space is plentiful in the U.S, and so everything here is bigger: our houses, our cars, our fridges. As a result, our carbon footprint far surpasses any in Europe.

The French diet is one of the greenest in the world

Cultural differences in how they approach their diet also mean French food has far less of an impact on the environment than America. One central factor to this is the fact that the French like to eat local. Food stores in the U.S. that sell only fresh, local foods are few and far between, but in France they are a dime a dozen. In the U.S, the average piece of fresh food on our dinner table has traveled 1,500 miles to get there; buying locally produced food will eliminates an enormous amount of carbon-emitting transport.

French people also eat less processed foods and prepare more meals at home. Rather than buying packaged sandwiches, where you can’t control how much salt, fat or sugar goes in, the French prefer to buy their own ingredients and make their food themselves. Not only does this mean they have a greater awareness of what they are actually eating and the ingredients that are being consumed, but it also means far less packaging is involved.

Another way that the French diet is considerably greener than the American is because the French eat far less than us. Go to almost any French restaurant or French home and you’ll see that portions are much, much smaller than those in America. Less food bought or eaten means less food wasted, but the French have gone one step further in their attempts to minimize food wastage. In 2015 a new law was passed in France that bans food stores from throwing away unsold food. This unprecedented ruling will force all large supermarkets to donate unsold food to charities, or to give to farmers to use as animal feed or compost.

Moving abroad, of course, is a huge decision and there are many things to one should consider before moving to France. But if you’ve always dreamed of making the move but have never taken the plunge, perhaps the green benefits might finally sway you. Exceptional food, captivating culture, a relaxed life ethos AND an eco-friendly lifestyle is surely the pièce de résistance when it comes to choosing where to live.

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