The Choice for Ecology: From Awareness to Action

Aliénor Parmentier graduated from PSIA in 2017. The very next day, she created her own consulting agency for innovative, collaborative and sustainable projects. She participated in the creation of a zero waste café in Lorient, Code Ø, and is the head of communications and zero waste workshops there.

You graduated from PSIA in 2017. How and why did you decide on the Master’s in Environmental Policy?

The Master’s in Environmental Policy was an obvious choice for me, because it was the reason that I applied to Sciences Po in the first place. I was also heavily drawn to the international dimension and the diversity of nationalities represented at PSIA. I loved my two years in Environmental Policy - it was a good choice! Working to ‘defend nature’ has been my goal since I was 13 years old; I’ve always been very sensitive to the subject, through my education, my passion for the outdoors (camping, hiking, skiing and sailing). It is where I am happy, and it’s what really matters to me.

Today you have your own CSR/sustainability consulting agency. What are the principal challenges that you have encountered in this line of work? What are its best rewards?

I started my own company the day after receiving my diploma from Sciences Po. Being self-employed is a challenge because it requires a strong sense of organisation, not worrying too much about the future while always moving forward, and surrounding oneself with the right people to work on projects, who share the same values. The other challenge is choosing to only work on projects that are forward-looking in an ethical and environmental sense. This is not necessarily the case for all projects. 

The best rewards are seeing the projects I have invested myself in grow and prosper, (Code Ø, for example), and seeing people who weren’t initiated to the subject of environmental protection in the beginning develop an ecological conscience and a sincere desire to act on it (for instance the skipper and Sciences Po alumnus Fabrice Amedeo). Generally speaking there are more and more initiatives that are making waves when it comes to ecology, and that’s really cool!

You are also in charge of communications and events at a Zero Waste cafe. What does your role consist of and what sort of workshops do you host?

I’ve been invested in the project Code Ø for two years now: at first I contributed to the elaboration of the project in its initial stages, and then to its launch, and since its takeoff I’ve been in charge of communications and events. My role as head of communications consists in generating discussion about this amazing project, about its team, the people who made it possible, its commitment, and its zero waste workshops organised by citizens who want to make a difference. It’s passionate work. The energy that emanates from Code Ø and its team is contagious.

Code Ø, the zero waste café

What recommendations do you have for students or young graduates who wish to turn their ecological engagement into a career? Would you say that this is possible through entrepreneurship, consulting, policymaking, or is it possible across all domains?

Ecological commitment can be transposed in all domains! And it requires people who have been sensitised to all spheres of action if we want to shake things up. My advice is thus to disperse yourselves across all sectors - as entrepreneurs, researchers, politicians, leaders, grassroots activists, etc. To get started, surround yourselves with a network that corresponds to you, that pushes you and encourages you (in my case, it was La Colloc in Lorient).a And then - off you go! Great things never come from comfort zones!

If you could sensitise all of France, or even the whole world, on an ecological issue in order to have a real impact on our behaviour and our lifestyles, what would this issue be?

I would make the population aware of a few things pertaining to three domains:

  • The construction and building industry is the largest source of pollution in France. In 2015, the Ministry of the ecological transition and solidarity (FR) reported that this industry was the greatest emitter of particles: PM10 (31%), PM2,5 (49%) and COVnm (46%).
  • Transportation: it is vital to rethink our means of transport by encouraging the use of trains by improving the service and making it more financially accessible, and by developing public transport further and facilitating bicycle mobility via renovations adapted to these goals in cities.
  • Food consumption: the return of consignment and the use of glassware, to really advance towards zero waste. Sign the petition! (FR)

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