30 Oct 2018

Time 6 minutes

The second edition of the zero waste festival: the best way to get inspired and take actions

The second edition of the zero waste festival: the best way to get inspired and take actions

“I’ve always been interest by the idea of zero waste but at first it seemed impossible to do”, admitted Mylène Paquette, spokesperson of the (free) event that will take place on November 3rd and 4th at the Bonsecours Market in the Old-Montreal.

She really loves the fact that the organizers of the event are trying to demystify the zero waste approach by making it more public-friendly. For her, we need to start acting on a large scale. No need to put blame on people! We only have to start educating them about the small things that can make a difference and show them that changing their habits will have a great impact. With its practical solutions, this festival will be particularly meaningful.

Festival zéro déchet | SDC Vieux Montréal

© Zero Waste festival

No need to stress, just talk about it

“I’ve been using reusable tissues for more than 12 years and yet, when I was first approached by the anti-waste chef Florence-Léa Siry last year, I was really intimidated. She was there for food waste while I was there for transportation waste but when you see committed people like her, who take actions in their field, it makes you think”, emphasized the woman who saw as many fish as plastic when she went rowing across the Atlantic in 2013.

“Sometimes, it’s worrying when you just want to change your way of consuming and do the right thing. You’re not sure about what to do or how to do it”, admitted Mylène. That’s why, just like the last festival, there will be panels, workshops, exhibitors and this year, even an apartment!

“It definitely caught my attention! It’s meant to show people that it’s a perfectly normal apartment adapted to the zero waste approach and for that, we don’t need to go back to the 70s and act like hippies. There are ideas and gestures that you can try in your daily life to change things little by little. I’m really excited about it!”

Little actions will pay off in the end

“I believe that one of the first things to do as a citizen is to say NO. Just like for the Plastic attack for example”, specified Mylène Paquette.

“Tell the cashier or the employees that you do not want to keep buying like that and that you don’t need the overwrap. At first, I was really embarrassed but now, I’ve learned to say it confidently. That’s why I believe the first step is to just express yourself and profess your beliefs! We are clients, we buy things every day and we want to reduce our waste so with time, the shops will have to adjust their behaviors”, said Mylène with a confident smile.

Because if many voices start saying no, once, twice or multiple times, then it’s a way to put pressure, just like when you vote: “I believe that sooner or later, with every actions taken by people, there will be enough pressure on the shoulder of the politicians and they will have to change laws according to the petitions.”

Laws change the entire equation

“Beaconsfield used to be the second most waste-producing city in Montreal until the politicians put together a waste reduction strategy. Everyone was really surprised! They reduced their waste by 26% within a few months only. The concept is simple: educate, inform and take actions. More accurately, they offered customized containers to encourage people to compost and they used this principle: if you pollute, you pay! “Money is a more efficient way to encourage people to change their habits little by little”, admitted the environmentalist.

A few years earlier, Switzerland reduced the quantity of domestic waste incinerated by 40% between 2011 and 2012 by setting up the system Pay as you throw. This system taxes users according to how much waste they present to collection. If people exceed the allowing quantity, they have to pay a fine.

For Mylène Paquette, there are more and more examples and it’s amazing to already see tangible results. “I’m very positive about the future of our planet! I’m convinced that by legislating and changing our daily habits, the day will come when people using plastic bags will seem strange and abnormal!”

The festival: information, materials and inspiring people

Among all the panels organized at the end of the week, Mylène will manage the one named “Good riddance to plastic!

So, is plastic the number 1 enemy of zero waste?

“Recent research have proven that plastic is degradable when in contact with the oxygen. Even if we don’t see it, it emits greenhouse gases so it’s crazy but even your plastic plates in your kitchen or the interior of your vehicle are polluting! I also can’t forget about all the plastic I saw all over the ocean”, reminded Mylène.

This multidisciplinary panel is clearly hostile to plastic and wants to rally the citizens. “It’s together that we will change things”, assured Mylène Paquette who admires the aboriginals’ way of thinking: “Earth do not belong to us, the land you’re responsible for is the one that you respect. I like this idea that the earth is something that you have to take care of, just like Eva with plogging or with the Plastic Attack. There’s also Alexis with Poly-mer who involves citizens by encouraging them to take samples that will be analysed in laboratories and then used to legislate by the government.

“As of today, can we choose to try the zero waste approach and limit our waste or do we not have a choice? I think that we don’t have a choice. There will probably be people who try to resist this but it doesn’t make any sense”, concluded Mylène.

Festival zéro déchet | SDC Vieux Montréal

© Zero Waste Festival

Find out more:

Mylène's zero waste essential kit:

  • Glass jars that come in every size
  • An old sheet to make reusable toilet paper
  • Reusable tissues
  • A reusable cup

Her panel and guests:

Alexis Einsenberg represents Poly-mer who allows people to take water samples from the St. Lawrence River thanks to an app and playful tools. “For researchers, it’s an amazing database to learn more about the river. It also allows people to stay informed and visit their government to legislate against the activities of big companies. Even when you can’t see it, polymer branches are in the water and get inside the food chain”, deplored Mylène.

Lyne Morissette. “We became ambassadors of the St Laurent at the Suzuki foundation the same year. I have to say that she was really intimidating to me! She’s is a specialist in marine mammals, has 2 PhDs and has worked all over the world! Recently she was committed to an incredible project, ‘the 100 tonnes mission’. They were supposed to pick up 10 tonnes of waste but they quickly reach the goal so they pushed the limit even more!” As for the waste they retrieved? Mylène and Lyne will surely discuss this and find a way to recycle all of it!

Eva Franc represents 2 projects on her own: she has organised the first plogging in Montreal. This Swedish practice consists in picking up the trash when you go jogging. She is also one of the organizers of the Plastic Attack in Montreal, a national movement made to denounce overwrapping. “I really wanted her to talk to everyone about this war against plastic”, emphasized Mylène.