Student Life

The year of green

Climate change; global warming; the planet is dying–however you want to label it, the time to act in order to reverse the severe damage to our planet is now. 

According to a recent report by the United Nations, the world is 1° C hotter than it was between 1850 and 1900.  In 2015, 196 world leaders came together to sign the Paris Agreement, a plan to keep global warming well below 2°C.

According to the World Wildlife Foundation, if the world doesn’t collectively act to reduce negative changes by 2100, sea levels could rise by 1.8 per cent, virtually all coral reefs will die, arctic summers will be nearly ice-free, 2.7 billion people will be exposed to heat waves every five years, flooding will increase by 170 per cent, and 18 per cent of insects and plants will lose more than half their habitat.

Luckily, if everyone does their part, there’s still hope. Coming into the new school year, implementing a sustainable approach to everyday routines can help. Little changes go a long way for the environment.

Food and drink

Several major U.S. cities like Seattle and Washington D.C. banned plastic straws this year. In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his plan to ban all single-use plastics by 2021. As a result of these bans, reusable straws have become more popular. If you’re a frequent straw-user, there are many alternatives to plastic straws, such as metal or silicone straws that you can buy and keep on you at all times to avoid using plastic ones.

Bringing a reusable water bottle and travel mug with you for constant water and coffee/tea refills can also reduce your plastic water bottle/coffee cup usage.

For food, wrapping your lunches in beeswax paper is a sustainable alternative to using plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Canadian brand Mind Your Bees Wraps makes eco-friendly colourful reusable beeswax wraps for all food storage purposes. Tupperware’s and cloth snack pouches are also a great alternative to plastic bags for trickier loose foods.

Carry reusable grocery bags in your pocket or backpack for when you need to go shopping—most grocery stores now charge for plastic bags. When shopping for groceries, try choosing a zero-waste grocery store where you can bring your own containers and buy in bulk. Méga-Vrac is a zero-waste grocery store with two locations, in Rosemont and Hochelaga, that offer discounts on products if you bring your own containers. The waste-free store also offers all the products listed above!

Health and beauty

Wasting less and choosing eco-friendly products is possible even for your beauty routine. In regards to menstruation, some alternatives to regular tampons or pads are menstrual cups such as the Diva Cup or menstrual cloth pads.Try using reusable cloth pads to remove makeup instead of disposable cotton pads and handkerchiefs instead of tissues.

When it comes to hygiene, try choosing a soap bar or shampoo bar instead of liquid soap–it usually lasts longer and doesn’t come in a plastic container. Ditch your plastic toothbrush and opt for a bamboo toothbrush. Did you know the plastic and nylon used in your toothbrush are virtually indestructible? According to National Geographic, approximately 23 billion toothbrushes are thrown out in the U.S. every year. Most of the plastic ends up in our oceans, killing marine life–100,000 marine animals per year to be exact. According to Ocean Crusaders Foundation, over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris are currently in our oceans.


Here is something to think about: how much paper does Concordia and its students use every year? A lot of people around campus have already switched to digital for practical reasons. Try going digital this semester by taking notes on Google Docs/Word/Pages, opting for a PDF or ebook instead of textbooks, and handing in your assignments online (when permitted of course).


According to Statistics Canada, the transport sector is responsible for 74 per cent of CO2 emissions. That’s why thinking of the way you travel is crucial to a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Luckily, Montreal has a variety of sustainable transportation options. Try to ride to school on a Bixi or Jump bike if you don’t have your own. Bixi docs are all over downtown and at least 3 can be found in close proximity of the downtown campus. The new Lime e-scooters are now a fun new option for days when you just don’t feel like pedaling. Another option is to use public transit, the shuttle bus or carpooling with friends. The fewer cars used per person, the less greenhouse gasses emitted.

Acting to help reverse the severe effects of climate change is an adjustment, but if everyone does their part, it’s possible.


Graphic by @sundaeghost

Student Life

Humans of Concordia: Jack Beaumont

A first-year design student making clothes, the sustainable and eco-friendly way

Alexander McQueen’s controversial designs sparked Jack Beaumont’s passion for fashion at a young age. This passion quickly turned to action and, at the age of seven, they started sewing.

Beaumont’s brand, Conatus, officially launched two years ago when the designer was 17 years old.

The idea: to manufacture sustainable clothing. “I realized that the planet is sick and, in order to help it heal itself, we need to work on sustainability,” said Beaumont. Now 19, Beaumont is a first-year design student at Concordia.

Conatus is unique, focusing on using sustainable fabrics and dyes for its clothing. “When it comes to fashion, there are already too many people that are doing fashion unsustainably,” said Beaumont. “Eco-fashion is really the only way we can go in 2016.”

Beaumont was born in Toronto and moved to Vancouver in 2002. They finally settled down in Vernon, B.C. in 2009, where they still live when they are not staying in residence during the school year.  Beaumont said growing up identifying as non-binary was hard.

“When I was in Vancouver, the harassment got to a point where there were no other options but to relocate,” said Beaumont. Through the brand, however, Beaumont was able to create a kind of “shell” from the bullying. They said expressing themselves through fashion helped them stay strong.

Beaumont also aims to create clothing that acts as a shell—making the person wearing the garment feel strong and protected but, most importantly, themselves. “There is that fine balance between the strength and rigidity but also the fragility and the softness [of the frabrics],” said Beaumont.

Before Beaumont began producing clothes, they extensively researched and taught themselves about fabrics, dyes and different methods of production using organic fabrics. “When I was formulating [dyes], I researched some of the traditional and contemporary methods of dyeing,” said Beaumont. Black walnut became one of their favourites products to derive dye from.  Beaumont produces their clothes from their home in Vernon, B.C.

The designer described Conatus as avant-garde—an innovative and extravagant type of fashion. “People admire the brand as it is, but some couldn’t see themselves wearing a lot of it, as it very conceptual,” said Beaumont. The pieces they make have a modern haute-couture look to them.  A lot of the clothing is sleek, clean, monochromatic and not too fitted.

Beaumont hopes that they can eventually bring Conatus to a less niche clientele, with more wearable pieces.

“I hope that it is something that Concordia can teach me—sort of being able to take your own spin on a design and make it somehow wearable and sellable,” said Beaumont.

The young designer and their brand have slowly garnered worldwide attention, thanks to their social media platforms, through which Beaumont posts and sells most of their merchandise.

The clients, mostly individuals concerned with the environment, contact Beaumont directly through social media, or through their website that is temporarily down. From there, they discuss the details of the piece, including size and colour.  If the client is based in Vernon, the order is hand delivered.

One of the designer’s ideas for a future project is to take silk fibres and replicate them through a 3D printer or use a vat of genetically-modified bacteria to have them produce a garment formed from bacterial structures.

While Beaumont plans to re-launch their website in the near future, for now, you can find their  portfolio on Tumblr under “jackbeaumontportfolio.”

Student Life

Bring your own containers and bags, and go LOCO on groceries

A new grocery store in Villeray offers an environmentally-conscious shopping experience

Somewhere on Jarry street, in a small shop littered with bulk food containers and glass pots, customers are going about their grocery shopping in a peculiar way.

LOCO is not your typical grocery store—here, one of the main priorities is being environmentally-conscious.

LOCO is an innovative, zero-waste grocery store that opened on Aug. 9. The store, located in the Villeray neighbourhood, offers its customers products that are as environmentally friendly as possible. The store’s products are sold in bulk, free of any sort of packaging, and most of them are organic and supplied by local producers.

The concept is simple: customers come in with their own glass containers and tote bags, or buy ones at the store. While the option for buying cloth tote bags is there, most customers bring their own.  After weighing their empty pots, they can fill them with any desired good in the store. At the register, the products are weighed, and the price is calculated per mass unit.  No plastic bags, no unnecessary packaging.

Behind the brand are four women: Andréanne Laurin, Martine Gariépy, Marie-Soleil L’Allier and Sophie Maccario.  The women all studied environmental sciences.  “We learned about monocultures, pesticides and their impact on agriculture. [We realized that] it’s important to be careful with that.”

According to the David Suzuki Foundation, the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, for instance, emits nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that retains heat in the atmosphere about 300 times more than carbon dioxide. Chemical farming also uses up much more energy than organic farming, which relies on natural fertilizers such as compost.

The food’s production isn’t the only part of the process that affects the environment. Food transport also comes into play when considering the environmental impacts of the food industry.  Transport requires gas, which results in more greenhouse gases emissions. The further food travels, the greater amount of greenhouse gases is released in the atmosphere, and the more damageable it is to the environment, according to the David Suzuki Foundation. Therefore, local farming is also a practice to be encouraged.

The new store is tucked away on Jarry street, in the Villeray neighbourhood
Photo by Sarah Boumedda.

“We wanted a place to buy our food that would be eco-friendly,” Laurin explained. “The main thing that [people] buy is food, so we thought it was the best way to improve our lifestyle, as food is the one thing people will have to buy no matter what, on a regular basis.”

LOCO’s products range from a wide variety of cereals, beans, and other dry foods, to fresh fruits and vegetables of the season, to local dairy products, various meat and fish, and baked goods.

However, LOCO offers more than just food. The grocery store’s inventory also includes daily-life essentials, such as cleaning products, soaps, and even toothpaste.  Most of these goods are handmade from natural ingredients.

“Our products are mostly organic, or come from various small producers from Quebec, who don’t use pesticides or GMOs [genetically modified organisms],” said Laurin. “LOCO is a place where you can find all of these products in one place, instead of having to pass by three stores to get your usual groceries.”

The zero-waste, eco-friendly concept of LOCO, with its no-packaging policy, is a brand new concept in Quebec but is a practice that is already popular in Europe. “There’s a similar store in France, called Day by Day,” said Laurin. Day by Day is a French chain of grocery stores offering bulk goods, just like LOCO.  Its first branch opened in 2013.

However, according to Laurin, the zero-waste initiative presumably originates from Bea Johnson, a French-born American grand prize winner of the Green Awards in 2011. Author of the bestseller book, Zero Waste Home, she adopted the zero-waste lifestyle in 2008, and now holds talks and conferences on the topic and writes about her experiences on her blog.  “[Johnson] is really involved in the zero-waste community,” said Laurin. “We know more about the zero-waste [movement] because of her.”

LOCO has been in the works for about a year and a half, said Laurin. “We only opened last month, so that’s why we’re really busy at the moment,” she added, gesturing behind her towards the hustle and bustle of employees and customers around the store.

“It’s been really nice,” said Laurin about the team’s experience since the store’s opening.  “It’s really fun to see customers, talk with them and ask them what they want, too. We try to adjust our products, depending on what people want.”

Laurin assured that everyone is welcome at LOCO, and that the team would gladly talk anyone through the basics of the store. “Maybe one day we could have a small store around Concordia’s campus,” Laurin said with a smile.


Founder of Our Horizon speaks at Concordia

Concordia’s Green Party Campus Club co-hosted a climate change workshop on Oct. 4 with Our Horizon, a new not-for-profit organization whose first campaign involves placing climate change warning labels on gas pumps.

The Green Party of Quebec, led by Concordia student Alex Tyrrell, supports Our Horizon. Concordia’s Green Party Campus Club welcomes students to reach out to them to get involved. Photo Michelle Reeves

Rob Shirkey, a lawyer from Toronto who launched the organization in January 2013, led the discussion. Our Horizon is campaigning for Canadian municipalities to pass a by-law that requires gasoline retailers to use the aforementioned labels. The organization believes passing this by-law would create a global precedent, as Canada did with its cigarette warnings which are comparable.

Sixty-four countries now have these visual warning labels, demonstrating their effectiveness in changing consumers’ attitudes and behaviour, explained Shirkey.

Shirkey expects these labels to have a unique purpose in the context of climate change. While most people are well acquainted with the issue, the consequences still seem far away for many.

“This warning label takes that far away consequence [of climate change], be it species extinction, ocean acidification, drought and famine, and actually brings it into the here and now,”said Shirkey.

Shirkey spoke about the psychology of climate change, explaining that when responsibility for something is shared among many, individuals are less likely to take action.

For more information, visit Press photo.

“The placement [of the warning label] on the gas nozzle quite literally locates responsibility,” he said. “You’re made to feel connected to this thing that otherwise has always been this abstract problem.”

While Our Horizon expects to see some individual behaviour change, they’re more interested in seeing collective change. The organization feels that placing warning labels on gas pumps will play a significant role in the fight against climate change at a low cost.

“The act of pumping gas has always been normal, it’s never been questioned,” Shirkey explained. “Ultimately, this is about creating dissatisfaction in the marketplace and stimulating demand for alternatives.”

Our Horizon wants to create space for businesses and governments to provide solutions for climate change. Politicians will be more inclined to adjust their positions, for example, if enough people show their concerns.

“If necessity is the mother of invention, this just injects a little more necessity into the system,” he added.

The workshop at Concordia was part of the organization’s cross-Canada tour, stopping at elementary schools, high schools, universities and community organizations. At workshops in Toronto, Shirkey had children draw their own warning labels, which they will present to city councillors.

Sixty-four countries now have these visual warning labels, demonstrating their effectiveness in changing consumers’ attitudes and behaviour. Press photo.

Our Horizon is asking Canadian municipalities to pass this by-law since it’s the most accessible level of government. They developed a database with the contact information of every municipal representative in the country, so Canadians can advocate this in their own community. They urge Canadians to contact their councillors or speak up at their local city hall.

“This is one of these rare instances where if you convince someone and speak from the heart and share your concerns on this, you can actually change the world,” said Shirkey.

They’re already gaining support around the world through Facebook and Twitter. Our Horizon has received endorsements by organizations including the David Suzuki Foundation and has been featured on major media outlets.

While on tour, Our Horizon brings a trophy, Canada’s Climate Change Heroes Cup with them.

“Whichever municipality passes this by-law is actually showing global leadership on this issue and we want to recognize that, so we’re going to engrave [the councillors’] names here,” said Shirkey.

The Green Party of Quebec, led by Concordia student Alex Tyrrell, supports Our Horizon. Concordia’s Green Party Campus Club welcomes students to reach out to them to get involved.

For more information, visit

Student Life

A more sustainable fashion future

Graphic Jennifer Kwan

In early 2010, the New York Times released a story of a Manhattan H&M store caught red-handed disposing of unworn clothes, most of which seemed intentionally slashed and torn to avoid reuse. The clothes were packed in garbage bags and thrown to the curb.

This incident left consumers aghast and caused H&M to reevaluate their green footprint and become a little more socially and environmentally responsible. In 2011, H&M launched the Conscious collection, which is made from sustainable fabrics including organic cotton, recycled polyester and Tencel, a fabric made from wood pulp and processed in a closed-loop production which releases no toxic materials into the environment.

Vanessa Paradis, French actress, model and singer, is the new face of the 2013 Conscious collection which is full of optimism for the spring with romantic styles, sporty shapes and tropical prints. However, the most exciting part of the collection is that is coincides with the Conscious garment collecting program, an initiative that seems just as optimistic. Starting in February, customers can now bring any unwanted garments from any label to selected H&M stores, such as the downtown Montreal H&M, and in return for each bag, they receive an H&M voucher.

The H&M Conscious garment collecting program has partnered with I:CO, short for “I collect,” whose mission is to get heavy hitting retailers to help create sustainable consumption by participating in the environmentally friendly sorting and reuse of men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing.

Turning old into new has become somewhat of a trend, especially in Montreal given the number of vintage clothing pop-up shops. Fashion icons like Gwen Stefani and Amanda Seyfried are all known to rock eco-conscious clothing such as garments made with low-impact dyes and organic cotton.

H&M is definitely keeping with the trend in their effort to encourage garment return, preventing clothing from going to landfills and as a result, increasing unnecessary air emissions, residual and water waste. According to the CEO’s message in the 2011 Conscious Actions Sustainability Report, Karl-Johan Persson stressed that “H&M’s target is to use only sustainable cotton by 2020,”  by tackling challenges of “climate change, working conditions, wages at supplier factories and the long-term availability of natural resources” that affect all fashion retailers worldwide.

Given H&M’s size and global reach, it will hopefully inspire other retailers to get informed on how they can contribute to sustaining the environment. Les Oubliettes owner Daniel D’Amours is devoted to recycling and giving new life to vintage clothes. “Being conscious is the mission behind Les Oubliettes,” said D’Amours. The company is a great example of how you can still keep with the trends while shopping second-hand.

D’Amours agrees “there is so much waste,” however, hopefully the upcoming H&M campaign “will inspire people to change the way they think and shop.”

Our levels of consumption and waste probably figure higher than we can imagine, however, there are ways we can still help sustain a healthier environment, even in the fashion world!

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