The waste-collecting cyclists who caught the UN’s eye

Members of La Tricyclerie association collect organic wastes from restaurants and companies to supply a compost in Nantes, western France on September 11, 2017. (File photo by AFP)
Updated 25 September 2017
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The waste-collecting cyclists who caught the UN’s eye

NANTES, France: Putting an end to the unnecessary burning of biodegradable waste, one restaurant at a time, has become the forceful mission of a team of French cyclists.
Their creative initiative, which relies largely on volunteers, has even impressed the United Nations.
La Tricyclerie, a neat play on the French words for sorting out rubbish, recycling and biking, turns vegetable, coffee, and other organic waste into compost.
Coordinator Valentine Vilboux, 29, travels on her electric bicycle to restaurants in the western city of Nantes, collecting peelings otherwise destined for the bin.
“It’s simple; we take everything, even the eggshells and citrus fruits. Everything apart from bread, meat and fish,” she says.
“It’s a lot! It proves the food is fresh and homemade,” she says, of one cafe after weighing out 20 kilos (44 pounds) of vegetable peelings.
Launched at the end of 2015 with just eight restaurants on board, the anti-waste tour has grown to include 23 restaurants and nine businesses, catching the attention of the United Nations.
La Tricyclerie and its founder Coline Billon, 26, are one of 12 world finalists, whittled down from 2,400 candidates, for the UN’s “Young Champions of the Earth” competition. The prize, to be awarded in November, is $15,000 (12,500 euros).
“It’s very rewarding, even if you don’t feel like you’ve invented something incredible,” said Vilboux.
While paper and glass recycling is becoming automatic to many, biodegradable waste generally ends up in landfill or incinerators in France.
This “black gold” could serve as fertilizer for farmers once it’s been composted, and currently represents a third of French household rubbish.
Salad bar manager Colette Marghieri wanted to join the scheme, even though there is no legal obligation to separate biodegradable rubbish.
“At the start, I had some doubts about the sorting but it’s easy and it doesn’t disrupt the service at all,” she said.
Fellow restaurant manager Guenole Clequin said: “It’s simple and very effective. We can see how much used to be thrown away.”
La Tricyclerie, which has two paid staff and about 10 volunteer collectors on bikes, receives a financial contribution of 40 euros per month and an annual membership fee of 50 euros from each business.
“A real community with the restaurants has built up around the reduction of rubbish and the creation of compost — we are real environmental actors,” said one of the volunteers, Pierre Briand, stirring smoking compost.
Cyclists call at each restaurant twice a week to pick up the waste.
The compost is redistributed free of charge to community gardens or to students of the Nantes horticultural school.
La Tricyclerie, which collects around 1.5 tons of waste a month, has set itself an objective of reducing the volume of restaurant food waste in the city by 40 percent.
And the impact could spread out of town.
The initiative has already been contacted by interested individuals in the southern French city of Perpignan, the Belgian capital Brussels, and the Indian Ocean island of La Reunion.
“It’s a little drop, but the potential is enormous,” Vilboux said confidently.


Ta’ateemah: Giving Eid a Hijazi flavor

Ta’ateemah includes a variety of dishes such as dibyazah, red mish, chicken and lamb stew and bread. File/Getty Images
Updated 19 June 2018
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Ta’ateemah: Giving Eid a Hijazi flavor

  • Dibyaza is made of melted dried apricots, roasted nuts, figs, peach and sugary dates to create a marmalade-like dish that can be enjoyed with or without bread
  • The dibyaza is also similar to an Egyptian dish called khoshaf, but dibyaza is often partnered with shureik — a donut-shaped bread with sesame sprinkled all over it

JEDDAH: Ta’ateemah is the name of the breakfast feast Hijazis enjoy on the first day of Eid Al-Fitr. It is derived from the Arabic word, itmah, or darkness, because the dishes served are light, just like midnight snacks.

Muslims around the world celebrate Eid Al-Fitr to feast after fasting for the holy month of Ramadan. But it is called Al-Fitr from iftar, or breakfast when translated to English, which is a meal Muslims do not get to experience during that month.
The first day of Eid is a day where they finally can, and they greet the day with joy by heading to Eid prayers and then enjoying this traditional meal.
Amal Turkistani, mother of five from Makkah who now lives in Jeddah, told Arab News all about a special Eid dish.
“The most famous dish is the dibyaza, and making a dish of it is a work of art that I can proudly say I excel at. Dibyaza is made of melted dried apricots, roasted nuts, figs, peach and sugary dates to create a marmalade-like dish that can be enjoyed with or without bread.”
She revealed that dibyaza is not a quick meal — it is usually prepared a day or two before Eid with the ingredients simmered to reach the correct liquid thickness.
No one can trace the origins of dibyaza — it remains a mystery. Some people claim it originated in Turkey, while others attribute it to the Indians.
A number of women who are famous for their dibyaza agreed that it is a Makkawi dish. This marmalade dish was developed and improved, with tiny details to distinguish it.
The dibyaza is also similar to an Egyptian dish called khoshaf, but dibyaza is often partnered with shureik — a donut-shaped bread with sesame sprinkled all over it.
Turkistani said sweet shops sell 1 kg of dibyaza for SR50 ($13), competing with housewives who make their own.

 

“I think it is always tastier when it’s homemade because of all the love that goes into making it. It’s also a wonderful way to greet your family and neighbors with this special dish that you only enjoy once a year.”
Her younger sister, Fatin, said: “My siblings always have Eid breakfast at my place, so it’s up to me to prepare the feast. My sister spares me the exhausting dibyaza-making, so I prepare two main dishes: Minazalla, which is a stew of lamb chops with tahini and a tomato chicken stew.
“She also serves what we call nawashif, or dry food, like different types of cheese and olives, pickled lemon, labneh, red mish — a mixture of white cheese, yogurt and chili pepper and halwa tahini,” Amal said.
Mohammed Ibrahim, 23, from Makkah, told Arab News: “It always feels unique to have minazalla and nawashif during Eid, and not just because it is followed by the Eidiyah.”

Decoder

What is Eidiyah?

It is money elders in the family give to the youth to celebrate Eid and to congratulate them on completing Ramadan fasting.