The second Montreal Zero Waste Festival began Saturday at Marché Bonsecours in Old Montreal.
The event is all about finding more ways to throw less stuff in the trash. Dozens of exhibitors are showing off their waste-reducing products, and there are conferences for a new zero-waste apartment exhibit.
“I want to be a part of saving the world for my grandchildren and their grandchildren,” said Sally Meyer, who came from Hemmingford to attend the festival.
One exhibitor showed off clothes made out of odds and ends of fabric that would have otherwise been thrown in the garbage. Another was peddling juice made out of ugly fruits and vegetables that grocery stores wouldn’t sell.
“When the grocery stores select, they usually choose the prettiest fruits and vegetables, and we take the leftovers,” said Frédérique Toupin of Loop Juice.
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There were plenty of reusable lunch bags and pouches to use instead of plastic. Less wasteful beauty products were also popular among the mostly female attendees.
“There are these reusable cotton pads for when you wipe your face at the end of the day,” said Caroline Sherman-Grenier as she browsed one of the kiosks. “You buy them eight or 16, then you wash them and reuse them so that looks cool to me.”
Another stand was pushing homemade body butters, hair products, and even homemade deodorant containing baking soda and coconut oil.
Organizers were particularly proud of their new zero waste apartment.
“It’s kind of a museum,” said Elodie Briant, the president of the Quebec Zero Waste Association, which hosts the event. “We recreated an apartment to show how it is to be zero waste at home.”
The apartment mock-up was equipped with reusable substitutes for plastic food wrap, disposable ear cleaners and much more. Wooden toothbrushes took the place of plastic, and reusable containers replaced cereal boxes.
“We’re showing ways you have to bring back the power,” said Briant. “We can choose the way we consume, how we will consume, and what we consume. It’s the power of your actions, and being involved in society.”
The movement is growing, something evinced by a long line of people braving the rain just to get into the festival.
“We can see there’s really needs and requests from citizens and companies to start and organize this event, so for us it’s not a big surprise,” said Briant. Her organization also arranges consultations with citizens and businesses year-round on how to reduce waste.
“I think it’s super easy to say it’s only big government corporations that have to make the changes, and politicians that have to change, but as a consumer, we can also make a small difference and if a lot of people make a small difference, we can see a tangible change,” said attendee Caroline Sherman-Grenier.
The volunteer-run festival has free admission, and it continues on Sunday at Marché Bonsecours.