La Cale: A greener way to stand out

The recent Montreal climate march and ensuing conversations about climate change have prompted many students to reexamine their consumption habits and reduce their waste. Four friends in Rosemont are ushering in this change with their new zero-waste pub, La Cale. Located on Rue Saint-Hubert, the bar prides itself on its strict adherence to environmentally-friendly business practices while still offering patrons a full bar experience. 

Walking into La Cale, the industrial ceilings and dim lighting create a rustic aura. There is still a ‘new bar’ feel, as co-owners Gab and Luca Silver Fox rush about making their homemade sodas and prepping vegetarian poutine. Josh Gendron, who has been with La Cale since the beginning and goes by Gend, described La Cale’s journey from its beginning to opening day. 

“It’s hard to make it a short story, because it was a long process,” Gend said. “Me and some friends […] wanted to open a bar for a while but […] lacked the inspiration to do so. There’s so many [similar] bars out there. So when we came across this book by Bea Johnson about zero-waste lifestyles it just inspired us to [implement] that style of operation into the bar system. It’s a way for us to be different from other people while also making a difference in the bar industry. Most of us nowadays, we like to care about what we eat [and] what we serve.”

Gend does not believe La Cale has faced obstacles so much as challenges. 

“It’s just finding the right suppliers and thinking outside the box,” Gend said. “It’s not an obstacle, it’s just a bit more work [and] a bit more research. [Our juices and sodas are made in-house], which most bars buy premade. We made the bar. The chairs and tables are second-hand furniture from auctions or restaurants that closed. Zero-waste is all about reuse, and we like to give things a second chance.”

Gend continued to support this claim as he talked about the message they would like to send to the Montreal bar community. 

“This is not a difficult thing,” Gend said. “Sometimes, things are more costly or time-consuming, but that’s really what makes your bar stand out more than other places. When you buy a Coke at another bar, it’s always the same Coke [….] I think it’s worth all the effort if you want to be different.”

Gend recommends that business-owners forgo printing the second extra receipt and stock their businesses based on what they can reasonably sell. To consumers, he urges people to stop ordering bottles of water and fill their empty pint glasses instead.

“Say no to straws,” Gend said. “My main advice is just try your best to make the least waste as possible [….] When a business goes zero-waste, the impact is multiplied, [and it pressures] other businesses […] to do the same [to avoid being] seen as the polluting business. You’ll have to make the switch eventually, [so] why not now? You just need to think outside the box, and [with all the literature], it’s getting easier and easier.”

Gend reports an overall positive response to the bar and hopes for further support from the community at its upcoming events, including Thursday comedy nights and a wide array of musical acts. 

With significant strides and major community support, La Cale is setting the stage for some long-awaited and exciting changes to the Montreal bar scene. Gend reported that the pub raised $22,000 through online campaigns, which shows the high demand for waste-conscious businesses in the city. This will likely mark the beginning of more conscious business practices and will urge business owners and consumers alike to start thinking outside the box.

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