In Paris, Green Forum Traces More Durable Footprint for the Planet

People suffering from eco-anxiety — the fear of environmental catastrophe — may get a boost from a green forum in Paris this week. Gathering hundreds of eco-entrepreneurs, companies and activists, ChangeNOW aims to trace a sustainable blueprint for the future.

From food to fashion, technology to transport, a raft of green solutions for our resource-sucking society is parked through Saturday inside a massive events venue — made of sustainable materials — in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

“It’s 35 days to reach Madagascar from Marseille. Going through the Suez Canal. And we are using the wind. It helps us to save up to 60 percent energy,” says Louis Chopinet who heads a Brittany-based shipping startup called Windcoop. Its wind-powered sailing vessels carry about 14,000 tons of cargo per trip. For now, that means spices from Madagascar farmers. With the shipping industry challenged to become carbon neutral by 2050, sailing is taking off.

“It’s really a growing interest now. Everyone is getting into sails and wind,” she noted.

Berlin-based Noa Climate also works in Africa. It sells systems that recycle organic waste into energy in places far from power grids. Noa’s Janin Gadke says the company works with financial partners so poor communities can buy products on credit.

“In Kenya, we have a project in an orphanage, they have a system on location … they can get electricity and everything. And they feed the system with kitchen waste,” Gadke expressed.

ChangeNOW is considered one of the biggest global green events of the year. This 5th edition includes CEOs and celebrity activists, like British primatologist Jane Goodall.

Being Paris, representatives of a greening fashion industry are also here, like luxury group LVMH. Also companies pitching natural textiles like silk, cotton, hemp and mohair.

“We can feel a boom in terms of demand,” says Eva Pujol who works for British textile nonprofit The Sustainable Angle; adding that “more and more people are coming and we have brands asking more and more about sustainable material … I think the pressure mostly comes from customers to buy better.”

The forum offers a bicycle parking lot, recyclable waste containers, and a stand cooking up veggie burgers. Those who couldn’t find climate-friendly transport to get here can make a contribution to offset their carbon emissions.

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