The Post Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) held its inaugural Eco-Week Nov. 12-25. Over the course of the event, PGSS is hosting talks and workshops that encourage students to reduce their waste outputs. Students from across campus browsed eco-friendly products at the the Nov. 16 Zero-Waste Market, which demonstrated a promising wave of enthusiasm for zero-waste and eco-friendly initiatives.
Konstantina Chalastara, PGSS internal affairs officer and Jenna McMullan, PGSS student life coordinator, organized the Zero-Waste Market. According to Chalastara, the market’s purpose is to teach the McGill community about zero-waste alternatives and to showcase the work of Montreal-based, eco-friendly businesses.
“[PGSS] wants to bring awareness to the McGill community about local businesses […] through talks on becoming eco-friendly and reducing waste [in order] to recognize that [living an environmentally-friendly lifestyle] doesn’t have to be a huge change,” Chalastara said.
Chalastara and McMullan hope that, after attending the event, participants will integrate environmentally-friendly practices into their daily routines.
“We want to show how you can make small changes because we understand that as students, you need options that are going to be feasible, both economically and with your time,” McMullan said.
Each business at the market offered products to help students move toward a zero-waste lifestyle. Boutique DDD, one of the participating businesses, sells a range of reusable household items such as straws and sandwich bags. Founder Luce Mainguy’s objective is to provide high-quality and aesthetically-pleasing products that are produced responsibly.
“The goal of [Boutique DDD] is [that] all of our products encompass [certain] criteria [focusing on…] design [and] environment,” Mainguy said. “We sell a large range of products […] for zero-waste lifestyles, […some of which are] made from biodegradable [materials].”
L’Atelier Candide, another vendor at the event, produces sustainable cosmetics. At the market, founder Solis Nahum showcased a range of everyday essentials, including solid shampoos, deodorants, and soaps, that are packaged without plastic.
“I started [L’Atelier Candide] to feature socially-conscious brands […] that positively impact our society,” Nahum said. “The idea of the online website is to bring companies together in the same place […] that reflect [similar] values. We sell personal care products [that] are wrapped in small, compostable cartons [or] fabric.”
Alongside the vendors’ kiosks, PGSS and the Social Equity and Diversity Education Office (SEDE) hosted a clothing swap to which attendees could bring old wardrobe items to exchange for other donated clothes. The swap aimed to help move away from the consumer mindset of buying and throwing away, since the fashion industry generates large amounts of pollution and waste.
“With the clothing swap, sometimes [zero-waste] is indirect, […] but the fashion industry represents [a notable amount] of the world’s pollution,” McMullan said. “So, a clothing swap allows you to have the same fun of something new without adding to that pollution.”
Chalastara and McMullan believe that Eco-Week events have encouraged a necessary discussion about wastefulness on campus.
“Universities are a great place for conversations about how individuals can make a difference,” McMullan said.
Through this work, the organizers hope that students exposed to zero-waste products during the festivities will be more inclined to adopt more sustainable habits and reduce their personal environmental impact.