The nonsense about degrowth, consumerism and waste has become a plague aimed at making the poorest people responsible for their own condition. When there is nothing left, we must make a virtue out of necessity and recycle the leftovers.
Those who have a full belly proclaim that we should consume less but better. This is the slogan of Pauline Grumel who in 2017 founded Unisoap, the first French association to recycle used soap.
With her collaborators, Grumel goes around hotels to collect used soaps. According to its website, three million French people can no longer afford to buy hygiene products, not to mention the students who rely on free food distribution.
Unisoap is a non-profit association with five employees. It takes soaps collected by workers at 130 hotels to a Lyon center for the disabled (Esat-Myriade), where the soaps are ground and sterilized before being repackaged.
They are then distributed free of charge to charitable organizations that hand them out to the needy. “We are in great demand and sometimes we do special operations, for example for students,” says the association’s founder.
Charity has taken hold in countries that have always boasted opulence. Every year, 20,000 of the three million French people who can’t even afford to buy a bar of soap receive a recycled one.
Grumel has become a star of the French media, who applaud his initiative. He will eventually be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. For the time being, the City of Lyon has named her “ambassador for sustainable tourism”.
The second hand is the great market of the future, perhaps the only one for large sectors of impoverished workers.
More and more goods are being recycled because workers can no longer afford to buy them brand new.
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