Concordia’s Zero-Carbon Future

Concordia researchers attend a panel on decarbonizing the city

As the city of Montreal works to become carbon-neutral in the next three decades, Concordia researchers are on the front lines of this energy-effectiveness initiative.

On Feb. 8, Concordia Public Scholar Mostafa Saad organized and moderated the panel: Decarbonizing Canadian Buildings: Opportunities and Obstacles. The four guest speakers, including both researchers and professional engineers, gathered to share their expertise in designing energy-efficient cities.

Saad is an engineer, and he explained that the panel provided him with the opportunity to learn about the business and policy side of the decarbonization movement. 

“It’s great to see from [the panelists’] experiences, what they encountered in that field,” said Saad. “It’s also guiding for a lot of students. They get to see what is really out there, and if they can make contributions towards that when they graduate or even during their studies.”

The decarbonization of buildings is an important part of Montreal’s 2030–50 Climate Plan, which aims to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. According to the city’s latest numbers, buildings generate 26 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in Montreal. 

The plan aims to make buildings emit zero emissions by 2040. Owners will have to declare gas and fuel oil heating, and buildings that are bigger than 2,000 square meters will have to display their building’s energy consumption and work towards reaching zero emissions.

Sophie Lalonde is the director of the Service de la gestion et de la planification des immeubles for the city of Montreal. She is optimistic about the decarbonization movement despite major challenges it faces, such as a lack of funding, workforce shortages, and Hydro-Québec’s limited capacity. 

“Will we reach our goals? Yes, we will, by working together,” Lalonde said.  “I think that, more and more, there’s a rising awareness. And it’s accelerating. For my part, I’m convinced that it can only lead to small, positive steps, and it’s going to keep getting better.”

In Saad’s eyes, the first step to decarbonizing the city is making the data more available to policy makers and homeowners. Saad hopes to see technology develop that can explain the energy consumption of each building to its owner and how renovations are saving them money in the long run. 

According to Saad, the movement should prioritize renovating existing buildings with new energy-efficient approaches. 

“We have a quote that says: ‘the greenest building is the building that exists,’” he explained. “It’s already there, so if you add anything to it, you’re increasing the carbon, usually.”

Saad’s vision for the future of Montreal focuses on densification by making the city more pedestrian and cyclist friendly, as well as improving public transit. He would like to see Montreal become a “15-minute walk type of city,” in which work, home and services are no more than 15 minutes away from each other.  

One of the panellists featured at the event was Concordia professor Ursula Eicker, Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Cities and Communities at Concordia University. Professor Eicker’s research focuses on every aspect of a city that creates a carbon footprint.

Eicker’s ideal version of Montreal focuses on replacing cars with public transit and on increasing green spaces, bike lanes and pedestrian streets. She also hopes that empty office buildings downtown may be transformed into apartments. 

“I’m pretty optimistic that we see some major changes in the next few years,” she said, “and really promoting Concordia as a sustainability champion, [which] means zero emission for the building operations, but much more than that: some talked about the solar integration, much more use of green spaces, urban farming…”

“It’s a really good time, just now, to move ahead, because we are all pretty aligned on where we should move towards,” she said. “And now we just need to make it happen.”


Nuit Blanche: Thoughts en lumiere, a rush into a green utopia

We didn’t do Nuit Blanche together, but we might as well have. Two arts writers vs Nuit Blanche. The apathy is real. We were slightly amused. And we’re still thinking too much about the colour green (and outer space?

Chloë Lalonde, Arts Editor, etc., The Concordian 

Nuit Blanche only really came onto my radar when I was in CEGEP, I guess some would consider that a late discovery. My best friend and I visited the Musee d’Art Contemporain (MAC) for one of their fantastic nocturnes. We had special drinks, I don’t remember much of the exhibition (it might have been David Altmejd) and exited the museum directly on Ste-Catherine Street. Little did we know of the wonderland that waited for us outside. Ah, a time when you didn’t have to book your slide/ferris wheel/zipline experience in advance… It was the best surprise.

Since then, Nuit Blanche has been lackluster, ridden with food anxiety, too much beer, long lines and the wrong activities (yeah, I’m talking about “wand-making” at Lockhart).

This year I decided I would spend my Saturday evening after a long day of teaching and laying out the arts and opinions sections of the paper, visiting as many galleries as I could manage with my sister. We met up quite early at the Belgo building (372 Ste-Catherine St. W.), before things were popping, and managed to pass by every gallery that was open, before stopping by the very crowded MAC, UQAM’s art gallery, a surprise performance we weren’t expecting and finishing off with Le Livart.

The Belgo is unassuming, if you didn’t already know it was home to 27 galleries, several artist studios, savvy startups and dance studios, it would be hard for you to find out. The exterior isn’t necessarily inviting, neither is the lobby and the adjacent cafe (I found a hair in my crepe and they gave me a free latte.)

It was my sister’s first time there and she had no expectations, but I didn’t want to disappoint. I did force her to cancel her unmade plans with her friends to hang out with me, after all. We rode the elevator up to the fifth floor (which is truly the sixth), and wove our way in and out of galleries uninterested until I started to notice a grand theme. Every gallery featured some kind of moon print. Drawings or lithographs, etchings, paintings––like craters on the moon––everything felt geographical, alluding to the earth and the landscape.

AMER, an artist from Montreal, paints with rust in their exhibition at Galerie Luz, using hydrogen, oxygen and carbon—what AMER considers among the essential elements for the appearance of life. Their work returns to the origin of the medium, with natural hues and industrial materials to reference ancient cave paintings and transmit modern messages over time.

Past a wall separating Galerie Luz in two, lived fibre works that felt entirely alien to AMER’s practice. White and fluffy, interrupted by copper threads and plastics, Mariela Borello’s tapestries connect to the body.

Later, at UQAM’s art gallery, the moon prints returned. Only this time they were in the forms of massive paper tapestries and sculptures disappearing into the floor. These rooms of earth and stone, on until March 21, compiled the incredibly similar practices of Michel Boulanger and Katja Davar.

Boulanger’s Girations, Rouler 1 was absolutely mesmerizing. A jeep-esque vehicle sinks and resurfaces, only to sink again, creating new landscapes with each dip. Davar’s drawings resonate on the same frequency. Each piece is like witnessing the plans for a new earth, land and soil.

The theme this year was “vert,” and events and exhibitions generally referenced the colour, sustainability and the environment throughout. Green is symbolic for many things, most notably, growth, whether natural/environmental, economic or personal, it’s said to be healing and inspire creativity.

Some works were all too literal; Le Livart had an exhibition up the whole month of February based solely on the colour green, and others were just flat out unrelated and overpopulated (collection exhibitions at the MAC).

Oh, and I can’t forget the performance we walked into on our way home, which was, arguably, my sister’s favourite part. Mourning of the Living Past, performed by Inflatable Deities, Canadian artists Jessica Mensch and Emily Pelstring, shook their futuristic “organic sparkly energy” all over UQAM’s Judith-Jasmin pavilion. It truly infected my 18-year-old sister. She danced along with them (behind the crowd) as I filmed her. She also changed her Instagram bio to “organic sparkly energy,” which I’m pretty sure is what the glittery duo chanted into their electronic amplifiers.

Sophia Arnold, Contributor for The Concordian and CUJAH Editor-in-Chief 

For the past five years, since I moved to Montreal, Nuit Blanche has been something to look forward to in the depths of your depressive episodes at the height of winter, mostly because the metro is open all night and the thought of riding public transit at 4 a.m. is overwhelming for a green-minded, uber-despising person. It gives a cosmopolitan New York vibe that Montreal aspires to everyday but can only afford to cave into twice a year (the other night being New Years Eve).

Nuit Blanche attracts all kinds of people: those who have kids and want to take them on the mini Ferris wheel at Place des Arts before retiring after “doing Nuit Blanche,” tourists who are just happy to be wherever they end up (admittedly, me the first two years…), and Montrealers who know where to be and will not give you the time of day if “you’re not from Montreal.”

My night started at Le Livart. I had been there a few times before but never on Nuit Blanche, although my partner had and was enamoured with the basement dance floor. The layout of the place reflects its roots as an old residential home, and still allows for artists-in-residence to use the upstairs rooms as studios. For Nuit Blanche, they had many artists exhibiting their works on the ground floor, and opened the upstairs, inviting you to speak with the gallery’s resident artists.

The exhibition went through all the various interpretations of this year’s theme, green, in all its facets. Livart expanded on the ideas presented in Vert, Histoire d’une couleur by Michel Pastoureau, who highlights green as a central colour in the role of art history. As you enter, Renaud Séguin’s green, ‘cabinet of curiosity’ style room welcomes you into a literal green space. Filled with found objects, from candy wrappers to paint colour samples, and some iconic references, like a picture of The Green Lady (@greenladyofbrooklyn), it’s like entering a commodity forest; our new image of green.

Other rooms in the gallery welcomed the interpretation of ‘green’ to be detourned headlights,  bricolage wreaths placed on the ground and large-scale photography. Due to the variety of mediums included, when you left Le Livart you were very aware what role the colour and ideology of green plays in contemporary art.

Next stop was Palais des Congrès, where we saw some of the works featured in this year’s Art Souterrain underground exhibitions, running until March 22. The piece we spent the most time with was the automated metro doors in sequence that opened as you walked through the hallway of them. It was an unexpected yet retrospectively predictable surprise seeing as the delapidated metro cars are the subject of many interactive installations throughout the city, highlighting the history and development of an iconic feature of Montreal daily life.

Next on the agenda; Phi Centre. I don’t really know where to begin with this one. As a self identifying ‘antenna,’ Phi Centre hosts a variety of events showcasing the latest tech developments, and this night was no exception. The show, Simulation/Acceleration, was built on the premise of human connectivity, digital capitalism and environmental degradation, exploring the topic with Virtual Reality (VR), augmented reality and a green screen interactive performance. DJ sets also took place throughout the night with visuals.

Life on the green screen was the highlight of the show. Mesmerized by the piercing gaze and dynamic movement of the performers in an array of outfits and positions, it was an ominous presence that rarely broke—apart from when viewers were invited to enter the green screen setup and the rare drunk guy did a peace sign. The screen showing the results of the green screen performance embodied the premise of the show, deconstructing the commonplace ideas of humans as apart from the environment and autonomous players in a hyperconnected world.

After a necessary food detour, we headed to Places des Arts, which was a short stop. Eying it through the crowds of people, we decided to skip it this year as it has an overdone, commercial vibe that we weren’t looking for (signified by the giant maple syrup cans).

Final stop: Eastern Bloc. The event aimed to create an urban oasis and safe space for freedom of expression and being, which it did through Allison Moore’s installation, The Enchanted Woods and various DJ sets with a dance floor in the usual exhibition space. Running until 4 a.m., it felt like a liberation from winter and greyness, taking you out of time and space to a utopic non-place—even though they ran out of drinks and you had to wait 30 minutes for the bathroom, which kind of brought you back down to earth.

All in all, it was an extensive, involved and jovial evening. But, we wish this programming was accessible at a substantial level throughout the year. In one evening, you go to four events before your corporeal limit is reached and you miss events that cannot be experienced again. In an ideal green utopia devoid of money, the metro would run 24 hours a day and every night would be an opportunity to engage with your local and international communities in such a monumental way, like the way you can on Nuit Blanche.





Graphic by @sundaeghost

Photos by Chloë Lalonde and Sophia Arnold.

Student Life

Green lifestyle swaps

I have changed my lifestyle because I feel like no other significant action to fight the climate crisis has been taken, and I don’t want to be held responsible when it becomes impossible for me to take my kids swimming without their skin burning off.

The angst surrounding the climate crisis makes my blood boil. There are some things you can do to reduce your waste and fight the climate crisis on an individual level: change your diet, stop buying single-use plastic, stop using chemical cleaning products.

The simple solution is to buy less. No matter how many people go vegetarian or vegan, not everyone will be convinced to do so, nor should that be the only solution to becoming more sustainable. The same goes for fully zero-waste lifestyles. Avoiding waste is nearly impossible if you are like the average person who has a billion things to do. It is unattainable.

Every morning, I leave my apartment trying to remember if I grabbed my mug—a pasta sauce jar with the sticker still on it that I lugg everywhere I go—an old margarine tupperware for food, and some cutlery I probably stole from my high school cafeteria.

Even when actively trying to avoid single-use plastic, some useless piece of packaging or junk will find its way into my hands––it doesn’t matter if it’s a plastic wrapping on the candy bar I deny I buy myself every day, or a stress ball I’ll never use from a guest lecturer; wasteful objects are everywhere. The key is recognizing them, knowing how to say no, and finding innovative ways to avoid harming the environment that work for your lifestyle.

In order to help the planet, buying new goodies that are pushed onto you through targeted advertising is not the answer. We need to be finding new and innovative ways to lower our waste, and integrating those habits into our lifestyle, one by one.

There are zero-waste/sustainability influencers like YouTubers  Sedona Christina and Sarah Hawkinson that you can look to for inspiration to be able to identify what changes you can realistically make to your lifestyle. Cooking and meal prepping are an amazing example: by making your own food, you can avoid the single-use plastic wrap of the sandwich you might normally buy.

Making your own products like face wash and cleaners can help reduce the amount of plastic in your household. I was a sucker for buying every new body product. By making my own skincare products, I was able to cut my budget from $100 every two months to the $15 it initially cost me to buy the ingredients. Green tea, aloe vera, hemp seed oil and castile soap are the only ingredients I used—and my skin has never looked better!

Think “what can I do with this?” rather than “how quickly can I get rid of this?” At the end of the day, there’s only so much that individual change can do. We must hold our government, clothing stores, and even favourite junk food suppliers accountable for their actions. And it’s with collective action that real change will prevail.

Graphic by @sundaeghost

Student Life

Dreaming of a green Christmas?

It’s the holiday season, and you know what that means: snow is falling, decorations are going up, and Michael Bublé has suddenly entered society’s radar again.

Crack open your wallets, ladies and gents, ‘cause it’s time to go Christmas shopping.

Last week, I made the mistake of stepping into a Winners on a Sunday afternoon. The place was jam-packed with ravenous Christmas shoppers, their carts overflowing with clothes, toys, home decor, technology, sports equipment, you name it. Simply put, it was an absolute hellscape – the shelves nearly picked clean, it felt like the apocalypse was just around the corner.

The whole experience got me thinking about the sheer amount of waste Christmas gifts produce each year. From polyester pajamas to plastic playthings, many popular presents are non-biodegradable, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, most of these items will end up in our landfills and oceans rather than our recycling facilities. Although there’s only so much the individual consumer can do, the more we are conscious of what we buy and where it goes, the more we can reduce our impact this holiday season. So without further ado, here is a list of sustainable gift ideas to try this year:



Houseplants have become insanely popular in the last decade or so. Although I personally manage to kill everything I touch, a lot of my friends are big time plant parents and are always happy to add to their collection. Also, I hate that I just said ‘plant parents.’

If you can, try to buy your plants at a local shop rather than online or at a big box retailer. Besides being a more sustainable option (usually), I find that these smaller stores have a more unique selection, and staff tend to be very knowledgeable about what species make good gifts.

Thrifted and/or Vintage Items

Not only is thrift shopping a greener option, it’s affordable too. While gifting something that is already used might seem a bit weird at first, you can find a ton of quality, beautiful items at your average charity shop—I’ve even found clothing with the tags still on. If you don’t want to spend your afternoon sifting through items in person, websites like ThredUp and Ready to Wear Again make it easy to narrow your search by size, style or brand.

If you wanna kick your thrifting up a notch, try shopping for vintage items. While this route can be a little more expensive, shopping vintage can turn up some pretty special finds, and the extra thought and care will be much appreciated. is a great online resource for vintage clothing, and Montreal is packed with all kinds of vintage shops like the Mile End’s Citizen Vintage and Local 23.


One Christmas when I was a kid, my great-uncle sponsored a polar bear in my name with the World Wildlife Fund. It was a great gift because a) I was sad about the polar bears dying, and b) it came with a cute little polar bear stuffie. This present was both low-waste AND beneficial to an environmental cause, which is pretty cool.

If your loved one has a cause that they are passionate about and you have a bit of cash to spare, consider making a donation on their behalf. Obviously, this type of thing isn’t for everyone, but if you think it will be well-received, go for it!

Items for long-term use

It’s no secret that much of what we purchase can become unusable or obsolete over time. Oftentimes, items wear out more quickly because they’re poorly made or because something newer and shinier has entered the market. While it’s normal and completely okay to replace things that are broken or utterly outdated, an investment in higher quality items that will stand the test of time is well worth it, and much less wasteful. This type of product can range from ultra-durable coffee mugs and winter boots to timeless furnishings and clothes.

Of course, this type of gift is only sustainable if the person receiving it actually has a need for it. When it comes to buying items that are meant to last for years to come, make sure you know a thing or two about the person you’re buying it for!

One last tip before I go: as you complete your December shopping, consider switching up the way you wrap your Christmas presents. Most gift-wrap is non-recyclable because of its glossy finish, so make sure you look for wrapping paper that is recyclable and/or biodegradable. Better yet, try using some old newspapers instead—topped off with a bit of ribbon or twine, I think this actually looks pretty cute. Plus it’s free, which makes it even cuter.

Happy holidays everyone!


Graphic by Salomé Blain

Student Life

Clearing a path towards a waste-free future

The third annual Montreal Zero Waste festival took place at Marché Bonsecours in Old Montreal, from Nov. 8-10. 

Held by the Association québécoise Zéro Déchet (AQZD)- who aims to sensitize and inspire citizens, governments, enterprises and organizations to become aware of the benefits of developing a zero waste lifestyle-the festival explored sustainable consumption, ecology, and composting among other eco-conscious themes.

With 14,000 expected visitors, up from the 7,000 attendees in 2017, the festival featured around 90 exhibitors, from hygiene products, to fashion, services and home goods. Over 90 per cent are Quebec-based initiatives.

“When [Life Without Plastic] started out, it was very difficult to get people’s attention regarding zero waste and zero plastic because people thought that all of the products they put in the recycling were, in fact, recycled,” said Chantal Plamondon, co-founder and president of Life Without Plastic. The company is a zero waste brand aiming to eliminate plastic use from everyday life by offering entirely compostable products.

Photo by Brittany Clarke

“It’s only recently that people have started to realize that there is plastic everywhere, and that garbage finds itself in the ocean,” said Plamondon. “Now, there is an increased conscientiousness around Montreal, for the past three-four years, around plastic and garbage waste and consumption.”

While the idea of a zero waste lifestyle was very niche a few years ago, it is now making its way to a larger portion of the population. Solid shampoo and conditioner bars were mass popularized due to Lush Cosmetics’s surge in recognition. Bamboo toothbrushes and solid deodorants are also slowly making their way into pharmacies, and institutions are opting out of selling plastic water bottles, such as McGill.

“You don’t expect that we produce so many beautiful, quality items here [in Quebec],” said Coralie, a returning visitor who chose not to give her last name. “It’s so easy to just go to WalMart and everything is cheap, but it’s not a conscious purchase. Here, you can slowly take steps towards a more simple way of life.”

However, Plamondon noted the superficiality that lies within the green industry. “People get very swayed by marketing, they will think ‘oh, look a bamboo toothbrush’ because the packaging says ‘organic’ and ‘zero waste.’ But if the bristles are made of nylon, it’s not compostable,” she said. “The good thing is, people are aware of the problem and they are looking for a solution, they just need to dig a little further and see what they are actually buying.”

In fact, the sudden surge in adopting a zero waste lifestyle, and the conscientiousness that comes with this, has incited many to make their own products. This can help minimize their ecological footprint as much as possible and be certain of what exactly they are consuming.

Photo by Brittany Clarke

“Seeing all the products gives you ideas; there are so many things you can make yourself,” said Audrey-Anne Pouliot, who attended the festival for the first time after a friend’s recommendation.

“I’m trying to change my lifestyle and the way I consume things,” said Philomène Dévé, another festival goer. “I purchased a lot of things to help me make my own products.” She noted that the climate march was, in fact, a driving factor towards her changing her lifestyle.

An estimated 500,000 people attended the Sept. 27 climate march, a 900 per cent increase from the 50,000 who attended Nov. 10, 2018, according to statistics from La planète s’invite au parlement, an independent coalition fighting for climate justice and one of the climate march organizers.

Moreover, with the Concordia University Foundation announcing its intention to withdraw all of its investments from the coal, oil and gas sector before 2025 earlier this week, it is becoming more apparent that key players in Montreal are increasingly invested in fighting for the climate and adopting sustainable practices.

From 2018 to 2019, there was a 9 per cent increase in the implementation of food waste collection in the city, bringing the total up to 540,000 units offering composting services, bringing hope for the future of waste elimination and zero waste initiatives in the Greater Montreal Area.

“This sensitivity for the environment really increased in the past few months,” said Dévé. “Especially with all the infatuation for the climate march, and it made me think that I was buying way too much and this buying pattern didn’t correspond with my true values.”

But the problem does not lie solely in the hands of the consumer, nor does the solution. While the environment and sustainability have definitely become a trend within the past year, it is important to remember that, with a movement comes infatuation and, ultimately, people who are trying to make money.

“Manufacturers must involve themselves, because they are currently exporting the price of plastic; they make the product without asking themselves what will happen to the waste, thinking that it’s not their problem,” said Plamondon. “As consumers, we have to inform manufacturers and give them incentives; we have to let our favourite brands know that we want them to make more effort in regards to waste production and packaging.”

When it comes to food, clothes and transportation, being mindful of what one is purchasing and how much one is consuming is a good mindset to have. In fact, the Global Footprint Calculator allows for you to calculate your personal ecological footprint based on factors such as how much meat you consume, the distance you travel daily and your electricity consumption.

“The way that we are currently living is not viable, so this type of festival is really good to initiate everyone and introduce them to a new way of living,” said Dévé.

While adopting a zero waste lifestyle is one aspect towards a waste-free future, it is not the only thing you can do. Eating less meat, shopping second-hand and supporting local businesses is a great place to start.

“I think there is a certain path [towards a waste-free future] that has been made that is irreversible,” said Plamondon. “I think it is durable, I have hope.”

“It’s one small step at a time,” said Coralie. “To simplify life.”

For more information about the Association québécoise Zéro Déchet and how to get involved you can visit their website at Calculate your global ecological footprint at

Photos by Brittany Clarke

Video by Calvin Cashen

Student Life

Going the extra mile in the field of green restaurants

Nestled into the vibrant borough of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, La Cale pub marks the first of its kind in the new wave of zero-waste restaurants in Montreal. Behind this innovative project stands a group of friends who let us peek behind the scenes of managing such a place. 

Josh Gendron shared how everything came to be after a long discussion with his co-owners Gabriel Monzerol, Lann Dery and Luca Langelier.

“We go way back and, after a while, we ended up working all at the same place,” said Gendron. “We wanted to open up a pub and be our own bosses.” Thus, the idea of overseeing a place of their own was conceived.

They did not want to conform to the status quo as, across Montreal, you can easily find an everyday pub. The four partners forced themselves to think of a way that would make them stand out, and that was when Monzerol suggested opening a pub with an ecological concept.

“Since we have been open, in our style of operation, we have not accumulated a full [amount] of trash yet,” said Gendron. Inspired by Béa Johnson’s book, Zero Waste Home, and her “refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, compost” model, what originated as being eco-friendly quickly transitioned to the zero-waste formula. Hence, even the minimal accumulated trash, which is essentially compost, is properly taken care of by a private company.

At this point, Gendron said that many considered their business idea as quite ambitious in regards to questioning how it would be sustained. However, with enough restaurant experience under their belts, they knew which practices to incorporate and how they were going to handle the pub.

Various approaches were taken into account in preparation for the opening. From interior design to day-to-day operations, La Cale follows its zero-waste philosophy in creating a business from scratch that is green at every step. The process began with how each piece of furniture was brought into use.

“Instead of buying new furniture, most of what you see inside is all recycled, second-hand or [materials] that were in the trash,” said Gendron. “Some [pieces] we built ourselves, like the bar countertops that came from pallets and the wood beams from the floor.”

The chairs and the tables again reaffirm the zero-waste motto of reusing, as they were taken from different restaurants that went out of business. Customers can also except sprinkler pipes as table legs, two-by-two pieces of wood from pallets used for lamp holders, trash lamps. Despite being rather nontraditional and not straight out of an IKEA catalogue, each of these little details helps create La Cale’s distinctive ambience.

Behind the bar, there is also a great deal of self-production in regard to the preparation of drinks. Instead of relying on mainstream plastic bags, which get thrown away after use, tonics and syrups are homemade. They are stored in glass bottles, which not only preserves the freshness of the taste but also spares the owners the need of a supplier. The pub does not stop there; it has even gone the extra mile of revolutionizing the beer culture.

Because the caps on beer bottles cannot be recycled, the solution La Cale provides is simply getting rid of serving this option.

“The only substitute is canned beer,” said Gendron. “Everything else is on tap because it’s the most efficient and eco-friendly alternative. Pretty much all of the alcohol is local, from local Quebec breweries, which also helps reduce the carbon footprint.”

Usually, local products translate to a boost in prices in comparison to outside imports. However, despite the dominating presence of local brands, La Cale puts the effort into balancing out the green concept to bill ratio. Unlike many places that serve beer, La Cale offers a pint for $7.50, which can be considered rare for Montreal.

Indeed, the project aims to change the way we think of pubs but, at the same time, it manages to remain competitive. Gendron claims that what makes the real difference are the small details in relation to execution. He doesn’t deny the hardship in taking up such a risky endeavour but knows that this is just the beginning.

“Financially, when opening a pub, there is a small margin of profit,” said Gendron. Right now, we are fresh, we are new, and we hope people will be interested.”

For him, La Cale can also be an inspiration for other businesses to follow the zero-waste model.

In the future, the owners are seeking to host more live performances. The pub has already hosted a couple of gigs featuring local bands and musicians. The show area, as Gendron refers to it, is also open for comedians to perform their bids while customers enjoy their eco-friendly drinks and good food.

The chef has currently cooked up a seasonal vegetarian menu that will leave anyone longing for a portion of the restaurant’s sweet fries. Carnivores should not lose hope in this place, as meat options will soon be introduced.

The interior aesthetics will also undergo more decoration with the addition of plants and mural paintings by emerging artists.

“What we really want is to influence other people, but without forcing our idea down their throats,” said Gendron. “Just to show that it is doable.”

Photos by Cecilia Piga

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


Montrealers get decorative with parking spaces

Park(ing) day in an international event that 35 countries are part of

Parking spaces around the globe were decorated last Friday, as part of the annual international Park(ing) Day. The way the event works is simple: find yourself a parking space and use this otherwise bland piece of asphalt as a blank canvas to create a temporary park or creative public space.

According to Park(ing) Day’s website, the event is designed to bring attention to the need for more urban open spaces and to facilitate a discussion regarding how public spaces are allocated and used.

The Concordia University Young Greens participated and designed their own green space during the event. They had a few plants set up in their space. William Gagnon, the President of the Concordia ambassadors group for the Green Party of Canada, explained the event is great for showing people alternative ways to use parking spaces and the effect that those have on a larger scale.

“It has a lot of effect, because everything that is little disruptive gives some food for thought, ” said Gagnon. “It just brings awareness and education.”

Photo by Mishkat Hafiz.

The annual event started back in 2005, with only one parking space in San Francisco occupied by art and design studio Rebar. Now, people and organizations are taking over parking spaces in 35 countries around the world on every third Friday of September. This was the fifth year the event was held in Montreal.

Student Life

Get green groceries at Le Frigo Vert

Concordia co-op invites you to come in and shop or just sit and stay awhile.

“Are you a member of the co-op?”

Good news is, as a Concordia student, you automatically are. Members, in addition to being vital parts of the community that keeps the co-op running, also benefit from 20 per cent off everything in store.

Minutes after opening the doors, Ms. Forti alternates between serving customers and stocking the chip shelves.

It’s the coffee that draws in the first clients. The co-op’s members are mostly students, and at 50 cents to fill a reusable cup, it’s cheap.

Photo by Sara Baron-Goodman.

Le Frigo Vert doesn’t exist to make a profit. It began over 20 years ago as a bulk food buying group and expanded to a store where it can best serve its mandate: provide affordable, organic food and environmentally-friendly products to students on campus. They keep their mark-ups low and their shelves stocked.

By the time the doors have been open for half an hour, the store has a steady stream of customers buying everything from sprouting seeds to organic cotton tampons. The convenient location just steps away from the Hall building, good prices, and high quality products are what bring in members.

It’s not just their regular weekly groceries that members can buy here.

“There aren’t a lot of spaces downtown where you can just hang out without having to buy anything,” Forti said. The co-op’s back room fills that need. Boasting a kitchen to heat up your lunch, a fully stocked bookshelf to peruse, and a newly renovated seating area, the lounge space is also home to workshops throughout the year.

“It’s fun to work in a store that also has a mandate to put on a workshop series every year,” Forti said. Past events have included anti-colonial dinners, DIY lotion and cosmetics workshops, and information on herbal remedies. Planning for this year’s workshop schedule is underway.

Le Frigo works with organizations around the city dedicated towards important causes such as food justice and the fight against poverty. In the summer months, it’s a drop-off point for local farms’ Community Supported Agriculture baskets. Leftover vegetables are purchased from the farms and sold in the co-op.

The clientele at le Frigo Vert is mostly made up of students. Since they are a fee-levy group, Concordia students are automatically members. Membership for non-Concordia students costs $15 per year.

The community feel of the place is apparent. This isn’t a store that’s set out to pay for a CEO’s yacht. “We’re a collective,” Forti said. “So many people rely on us for their groceries. It’s really important that we have what they need when they need it.”

If you’re interested in getting involved, send an email to They regularly hold volunteer orientations.

Le Frigo Vert is located at 2130 Mackay St.


Starting the school year off green and nature-conscious

Year’s first major talk to feature stellar cast of environmental justice figures

The CSU’s first talk of the year on Sept. 3 will feature environmental journalist Bill McKibben and indigenous activist Ellen Gabriel discussing climate change and human rights in the only Canadian stop of the People’s Climate Tour, advertised as the world’s biggest climate change protest.

Scheduled alongside a New York City climate change summit to be attended by heads of state and policy-makers, the tour will be mirrored internationally in over a dozen countries. Hundreds of groups will be participating in a massive display of environmental mobilization seeking to pressure governments and corporations into rethinking environmentally-detrimental policies and projects.

One such group to have a strong presence at Wednesday’s talks will be (of which McKibben is a founding member), a global organization looking to limit the worldwide concentration of atmospheric CO2 to 350 parts-per-million — a figure widely considered the threshold beyond which destructive climate change is unavoidable. (The current concentration is 400 parts-per-million.)

Alongside a campaign to increase institutional divestment of fossil fuels, has long rallied grassroots action against, among other things, tar sands development and the transnational pipeline. Alongside the CSU, they’ve planned the event alongside the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) and the Divest chapters of both universities.

“If we have a mission at this point of time it’s to build a climate cross-movement not just on environmental issues, but working with labour, working with frontline indigenous communities [and] the communities dealing with the worst impacts of climate change,” said’s Tar Sands Organizer and onetime Concordia student Cam Fenton, who has handled publicity and media relations for the event.

Fenton says the choice of Montreal as a location was a natural one and that Canadian youth in general were particularly sensitive to environmental issues.

“Environmentalism cuts across all sorts of social issues, indigenous rights, worker’s rights, and is especially grounded in the sense that we’re talking about what will happen to our future,” he said.

Fenton believes the presence of the participants, McKibben and Gabriel included will serve as a powerful inspiration to all who attend.

McKibben, whose decades-long career and seminal 1989 work The End of Nature is seen by some as starting the public discourse on global warming, has long tried to raise public consciousness on the issue of man-made climate change and the increasingly important urgency to cease modern man’s destructive existence and move towards a sustainable, if humbler, lifestyle.

Gabriel, another Concordia graduate hailing from the Kanehsatà:ke Mohawk nation, first rose to international prominence as one of the spokespeople for the Mohawk protesters during the 1990 Oka crisis. She’s since campaigned for the revitalization of native traditions and rights and a greater inclusion of indigenous concerns in social and political discourse, and protested the expansion of tar sands pipelines.

“[Gabriel] has such a powerful voice when it comes to indigenous rights,” said Fenton, calling her a ‘frontline community voice in resistance.’

He said her knowledge would combine with McKibben’s reputation to make for a powerful strategy on account of the powerful position indigenous communities possess in terms of experience with environmental damage and the land rights enshrined to them by the Constitution.

“It’s not just something that can be solved by a single environmental organization,” he said.

Earlier this year the Supreme Court echoed this sentiment when it ruled in favour of a native rights claim by the B.C. Tsilhqot’in nation to 1,700 square kilometers of traditional land falling outside reservations. The ruling reiterated that any attempts by non-native entities to resource extraction over this land required explicit consent by its traditional inhabitants, effectively creating the possibility of veto powers by other indigenous nations over corporate and government-led development.

Fenton hopes the visit to Montreal will accurately transmits the urgent need for change to individuals curious to learn more and galvanize the determination of established environmentalists: “The decisions we make today [are what] the young people will have to live with; [they] see the urgency of action.”

The People’s Climate Tour will be held on Sept. 3 from 7 – 10 p.m at the H-110 Alumni Auditorium  of the Hall Building, 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W. Tickets are free but limited in number. Consult for reservations and attitional information.

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