Inspiration for leading a zero-waste life

All the way from Trois-Rivières, Etienne Cyr creates sculptures by reusing plastic and metal. Photo by Mackenzie Lad

Living a zero-waste life may seem out of reach for some, but with minor adjustments, it can be possible. With this in mind, Greenpeace McGill hosted its third annual Zero Waste Fiesta on March 15, welcoming over 30 Montreal-based businesses, services, environmental activists and specialists.

“Our goal is to raise awareness about how wasteful our consumption is,” said Alice Sécheresse, the president of Greenpeace McGill. “We want to create a platform to get everyone together and begin a conversation about the zero-waste lifestyle.”

At this year’s Zero Waste Fiesta, local band Temporary Flings performed while people walked around the fair, enjoying vegan food and browsing the various stands selling products or services. According to Geneviève Westgate, the vice-president of Greenpeace McGill, the Zero Waste Fiesta was actually created before Montreal’s own annual Zero Waste Festival, back in April 2016.

Greenpeace McGill works closely with the organization’s Montreal, Quebec and Canada branches to promote their initiatives, such as a campaign against plastic pollution and a petition urging Coca-Cola to phase out single-use bottles and implement alternatives. According to Westgate, Coca-Cola products are the most common waste found in the trash. “We want to begin the conversation about the zero-waste lifestyle, have people ask questions and learn everything they need about the different types of alternatives,” Sécheresse said.

Events like the Zero Waste Fiesta, she explained, demonstrate to large companies that their smaller competitors are gaining local popularity while promoting and implementing environmentally friendly practices. The success of small, eco-friendly businesses challenges large corporations to set a better example. The message is essentially: if small companies are capable of being zero waste, why shouldn’t other companies follow suit, Sécheresse said.

From the many stands featured at the Zero Waste Fiesta, attendees learned about what is and is not compostable, and questions about zero-waste and shifting to a more eco-friendly lifestyle were answered by representatives from the Association Québecoise Zéro Déchet. Global campaign representatives from the Billion Bottle Challenge were also in attendance, selling reusable bottles and goodies from Senegal in the hopes of encouraging people to reduce plastic consumption.

But now, it’s your turn to learn about the different ways you can start a zero-waste lifestyle.

Öko Creations’s stand showcased their reusable products, including makeup remover pads and handkerchiefs made from organic cotton and hemp. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

The local business Öko Creations—named after the German word for ‘eco’—was founded in 2009 by sisters Mélanie and Marie-Noël Beetz. At the Zero Waste Fiesta, Öko Creations’ reusable makeup remover pads, handkerchieves and feminine hygiene products were available for sale. All of these products are made from organic cotton and hemp. Karine Létourneau, an Öko employee, said using these types of products is a great and easy way to transition to a zero-waste lifestyle.

“Buying products in bulk that eventually end up in the wastebasket turns out to be more expensive than the one-time purchase of a reusable product,” Létourneau said. “So, from a the long-term perspective, financially and environmentally, the zero-waste lifestyle is better.”

Simon Gosselin founded an online zero-waste grocery shop that delivers all its goods by bike. Photo by Mackenzie Lad

Simon Gosselin, the founder of an online zero-waste grocery store called Vrac sur Roues, was promoting his service at the Zero Waste Fiesta. His goal in creating Vrac sur Roues was not only to offer a zero-waste service, but also a zero-CO2 service—he delivers everything by bike. The online grocery store only sells dry products, such as sesame seeds, dried fruit, nuts, rice and oats. Customers can order the exact amount they want, and when the delivery is made, the goods are poured directly into their containers, thus making it zero-waste. Gosselin also makes and sells his own shampoo and floor detergent, using organic and natural products. “Smell the floor detergent,” he said. “That’s the scent of no chemicals.”

Étienne Cyr, an artist who reuses metal and plastic to create his robotic sculptures, came all the way from Trois-Rivières to share his art. “I improvise,” said Cyr about his process. “When I begin a sculpture, I do art workshops with children and have them guess what my sculptures are made from.”

A glimpse of the handmade jewelry from zero-waste brand Pommerose. Photo by Mackenzie Lad

Cyr wasn’t the only one who turned recycled materials into art at the Zero Waste Fiesta. Francia Arcila displayed her handmade jewellery at the event. Under the brand Pommerose, Arcila makes earrings, bracelets and necklaces out of cans, bottles and plastic bags. Just as someone would sort waste to be recycled or composted, this artist sorts her materials by colour to keep the accessories uniform.

A zero-waste sushi catering service is available every Wednesday at the Concordia Farmer’s Market. Photo by Mackenzie Lad

Rawlin, a Montreal startup created by Gaultier Vendioux, makes a vegan “grab and go” roll that resembles sushi. The zero-waste catering service has a stand at the Concordia Farmer’s Market every Wednesday in the Hall building.

Although Rawlin did not start out as a zero-waste company, the transition to zero-waste was easier than the team thought. According to Duc Nguyen, a Rawlin representative, “going zero-waste is simply having the knowledge to go zero-waste.” Vendioux added that knowing exactly how much food you need is a must when catering events to make sure no food goes to waste.


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