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.


A wellness interlude

The relaxation room at the Pearl Spa. (All images supplied)
Updated 20 September 2018
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A wellness interlude

  • The Pearl Spa offers holistic wellness experiences
  • It is themed around the region's pearling heritage

DUBAI: Few things can give you that instant holiday feeling as much as a spa treat. Of course, it helps if it’s within the tranquil beachside setting of the luxe-Arabesque Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach. Walking into its sun-drenched lobby bedecked with fresh floral arrangements puts you into relax mode, with the dial being cranked up higher as soon as you enter Pearl Spa.

Themed around the region’s pearling heritage, the spa doesn’t just nod to the gem in its name but also references it in the opulent yet understated design with mother-of-pearl inlays and pearly finishes throughout.



And if the spa’s decor is impressive, the couples’ suite will wow even the most jaded. A proper hotel-suite sized affair, it has a generous living area with sofas, an outdoor courtyard with a bubbling fountain providing the perfect backdrop, and separate treatment rooms and bathrooms. Once holed up in here, anyone could be forgiven for not trying out the rest of the wet facilities, which include a steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi and a sensory shower.

However, a spa is only as good as its therapists, and in this case they are among the best in town. The signature massage, a 90-minute therapy, combines a variety of strokes and pressures, together with regionally inspired oud, rose and frankincense oil to make for a truly indulgent experience.

The treatment protocol is merely prescriptive, however, as the therapists really take it upon themselves to fix whatever is required — knots were teased out, muscle aches I didn’t know existed eased away, and tensions soothed as the masseuse kneaded, pummeled and stretched, hopping on to the table to maximize the impact of the massage.



I waddled out in an utterly relaxed state, making a mental note that this is one of the best massages anyone can have in Dubai, bar none (and I have tried most).

At the end, herbal teas are served in the private lounge as you are left to ease yourself back into the real world at your own relaxed pace. The quintessentially Four Seasons touch of thoughtfulness punctuates the whole experience, whether it’s in the beauty gear provided in the ladies’ dressing room, or the nuts and dried fruit snacks accompanying the post-treatment snack.

When you combine a superlative treatment such as this with a spa lunch, then it can turn a dusty urban afternoon into a complete retreat like little else can.



Offering a holistic wellness experience, their new spa menu features light and nutritious yet delicious gourmet dishes: Marinated tuna carpaccio with seaweed and cucumber yuzu dressing and sunflower seeds; avocado and Boston lettuce salad with shaved Parmesan and poached apple and perfectly cooked Loch-Fynn salmon with sautéed kale and asparagus; and fresh, mousse-like low-fat mango yoghurt with acai sorbet and granola crumbs. The pre-treatment lunch is usually served in the Pearl Courtyard, but during the hotter months can be taken indoors at the lobby side Shai salon.