Green lifestyle swaps are happening everywhere and Montreal has become a hub for the new eco-friendly businesses to open.
After a month of spreading the zero-waste spirit with their business, l’Épicerie Muscade strives to deepen its roots in the iconic Montreal borough, the Plateau Mont-Royal.
Quebec still struggles to find ways to cope with the waste it makes yearly. In 2012, residents were producing approximately 750 kilograms of waste a year, and according to Recyc-Quebec only 64 per cent of recyclables are recycled.
Muscade tries to reduce plastic waste by selling dry ingredients and spices in bulk and local artisanal zero-waste swaps. Swaps are re-usable products that you can buy or make to help lower your single use plastic consumption. But what draws customers into the shop is the cozy cafe that serves vegan foods and drinks.
Although it isn’t the first of its kind on the island, this grocery store is giving many eager shoppers access to zero-waste product in the Plateau. François Guinaudeau, a local who has been working towards a zero-waste lifestyle was very pleased with the new business.
“We live right near l’Epicerie Muscade,” said Guinaudeau. “We had been waiting for a long time for something that did ‘vrac’ shopping that was close.” There are limitations to what products they offer. Zero wasters still need to go to their local fruiterie to find fresh produce and protein, which still makes low-consumption shopping a difficult task.
The cozy store is located a short walk from Mont-Royal metro station, on the corner of Messier Street and Mont-Royal Avenue. The warm-coloured decorations and giant window let in some natural light to create a homey feeling space.
Éline Bonnin, the head chef at Muscade, explained how the concept for this business came alive.
“At first it was more of a restaurant, but once we found this location everything changed,” she said.
Since she started living a zero-waste lifestyle, Bonnin realized that she wasn’t finding what she needed in her neighbourhood. Shortly after her realization, Bonnin, Lola Farruggello and Melyssa Lemieux–the other co-owners of l’epicerie Muscade–quickly jumped on the opportunity for a zero waste business.
The three young women hope to reshape the way residents think about vegan and zero-waste lifestyles through their new business. “There’s a big cliché that being zero-waste and vegan is more expensive,” said Bonnin. “But this isn’t always true. We hope to offer something that can break this mould.”
Although there isn’t any fresh produce, this store is neatly stocked, offering typical ‘dry’ ingredients as well as spices in bulk. Additionally there are a variety of zero-waste swaps you can find there.
“We have an entire table dedicated to zero-waste feminine hygiene products” said Bonnin. Lots of cosmetics and kitchen stuff, the house, artisanal products made in Quebec.”
On top of the grocery shopping experience, customers can also buy ready-to-eat food in mason jars. L’epicerie Muscade also offers dishes, soups, vegan cheeses and yogurts for customers to take home. “What we’re most proud of is the little fridge with all of our homemade goodies,” said Bonnin.
Photo by Juliette Palin