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Green news France: Art fights cigarette butts, retrofit Solex mopeds

A giant cigarette packet full of butts installed on Nice’s Promenade des Anglais by France’s answer to Banksy 

‘Here is the work of a pack of big idiots’ by French street artist Toolate Pic: Instagram/newsfromtoolate

We look at how France is tackling environmental and climate issues.

Art used to highlight cigarette litter in Nice

A giant cigarette packet, an installation piece by the militant street artist Toolate, on Nice’s Promenade des Anglais put a spotlight on the legendary seafront’s litter problem this summer.

The work, highlighted the environmental impact of discarded fag ends. It contained 10,000 cigarette butts collected by the collective Nice Plogging, which regularly organises waste collection in the city.

The artist, who is keen to remain anonymous à la Banksy, wrote an email to local TV station France 3 Côte d’Azur saying: “This work is above all a protest against human stupidity. 

“Throwing away your cigarette butt is not just a question of clean beaches, it goes further than that: between the pollution of the oceans, the fires that it can cause...”

“People who smoke are within their rights to damage their health but not to damage the planet” he added.

Previous works by Toolate include surgical masks, discarded in Paris and framed in November 2020.

Read more: Solar bins crush rubbish in Nice to end overflowing waste on streets

Solex retrofitting is CO2 friendly 

An eco-friendly mechanic in Castres (Tarn) with a passion for old mopeds is enjoying success with a project to electrify Solex powered bikes and mopeds. 

The retrofit consists of replacing the vehicles’ thermal engine with an electric motor.

Over the past 18 months, Eric Fédevielle has served nearly twenty customers who owned old two-wheelers – and they have benefitted from a €1,000 upgrade grant from the government. 

With a new electric motor, a Solex can be ridden for 32 kilometres after just two hours of charging.

Read more: French law on contrôles techniques for motorbikes and mopeds repealed

Sport gear gets upcycled    

For anyone whose garage is cluttered with busted up old bikes and skateboards, tennis rackets and other damaged sports equipment, there is an alternative to simply throwing it all in the déchetterie (tip).

Montpellier (Hérault) association Lezprit Réquipe refurbishes and resells the second-hand items at low prices.

The company says it has already souped-up and sold on five tonnes of sports equipment donated by individuals, communities or sports halls that have updated their equipment (or outgrown certain sporting endeavours).

“To be able to repair it, you need some cunning, common sense and time to understand how the object is made. 

“It’s often small repairs that get the equipment back in shape,” chief repairer Maxime Astier told Franceinfo.

A similar venture has recently been launched in Grenoble (Isère). 

Recyclerie Sportive takes bikes, scooters (trottinettes), fitness equipment and more, to refresh and resell it – part of what is known as the “Slow Sport” movement.

Read more: Repair Cafés: a way to save broken items from the bin in France

Water from private piscines    

Connexion has previously reported on how local authorities have emptied municipal swimming pools and even ice-skating rinks in a bid to keep trees watered during the recent drought.

Now residents in Bourg-lès-Valence, a commune in the Drôme, are offering to donate water from their own private swimming pools in order to help out during the water shortage. 

Read more: Residents in French town donate pool water for parched green spaces

Responding to concerns over the potential damage that treated water can cause, the village’s ‘green spaces’ worker Lionel Cafacci, said “Unless it is a salt treatment, (...) the chlorine, once it is evaporated, causes no problems for trees”. 

Bourg-lès-Valence workers say 30m3 of water is enough to water 300 trees, with young plantations in public parks the main priority. 

“We can see that our fellow citizens are becoming more aware of the issue of global warming,” says Marlène Mourier, the commune’s mayor. 

About twenty residents have already offered to donate the water from their swimming pools. 

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