Marché Laflamme, becoming greener every day
The place of plastics in today’s society is increasingly being questioned, and the City of Gatineau, the Province of Quebec and the federal government are all exploring ways to cut the use of plastics in many businesses.
While some companies are waiting to see what the government imposes on them, others are acting on their own with the objective of modernizing their business and contributing to the wellbeing of the environment.
This is the case for Marché Laflamme, which over the past year has firmly embarked on a green movement.
“As a small local grocery store, we tended to heavily pack our food to keep it as safe as possible. Our customers would come in and let us know their concerns about overpacking and we decided they were right, which is why we decided we really needed to get involved in our green shift,” said Marché Laflamme owner Marius Laflamme.
On November 11, the local grocery store installed an automatic sprinkler system to easily keep their vegetables fresh and preserve their shelf life in bulk, an initiative they continued with the introduction of bulk vegetable containers on December 6.
These vegetable containers, unique in grocery stores in the region, avoid the use of styrofoam containers and individual plastic packaging for small vegetables such as beans. Containers also allow people to pick from these vegetables according to their needs and not according to the fixed quantities of individual containers, and it limits food waste.
To illustrate the success of the green movement and encourage others to do the same, Laflamme used the example of plastic bags to illustrate how quickly people adapt and how sustainable it is to make green decisions.
“I was one of the last markets to charge $0.05 per plastic bag, because I didn’t want my customers to absorb the costs. But a few years after I started doing it, I noticed that my spending on bags had decreased by 80% and it keeps going down without people ever complaining about it and the money I used to put into buying bags can go somewhere else,” he explained.
Mr Laflamme attributes a huge part of the success of his green movement and the diversification of the product offering in his business to his daughter Myriam.
“A huge part of our efforts to go green is due to my daughter,” he said. “She is super committed and motivated. She communicates with our consultant, our customers and other merchants to find new and better ways of doing things and new products that I didn’t even know existed. I am extremely grateful; the future belongs to her and I am so proud to be able to say that.”
Among his future investments, Mr Laflamme says he keeps his eyes and ears open. For now, he says he wants to focus on increasing access to recycling services in his business, an issue he says he has discussed with great success with Councillor Bureau, as well as the possibility of offering compostable vegetable bags to accompany the reusable bags already sold at the store.
Large food companies are widely recognized as very wasteful.
In order to avoid food waste as much as possible, the Marché Laflamme has been donating some of its unsold food to the Aylmer Food Centre for several years on its Monday to Friday operating days.
For some time now, the market has also been involved in the anti-waste fridge project, introduced in October on the site of the Chevaliers de Colomb building at 78 rue Principale, where they offer a variety of unsold food on weekends.
“Between having losses that go to the garbage or having losses that go to feed people in need and contribute to the community, the choice is easy to make. We are extremely lucky to have people working for resources like this in Aylmer and we want to try to contribute as much as we can to things like this,” stated the owner of the Market.