Marie-Soleil L'Allier is studying for her doctorate in environmental science at the Université du Québec à Montréal. She is researching how initiatives based on the commons contribute to the ecological transition.
In 2014, after Marie-Soleil had earned her master's degree with a thesis on a new generation of businesses (Transition-oriented enterprise), she and three university colleagues founded LOCO, the first zero-waste grocery chain in Quebec. At LOCO, Marie-Soleil put the findings from her master's thesis into practice and helped to make LOCO an agent for social innovation in Quebec's food industry. In less than two years, LOCO helped to raise awareness of the zero-waste movement in Quebec, not only among the store's customers and its immediate community, but also among the store's supplies and other businesses that had had accepted the zero-waste challenge. Described by the Quebec consumer magazine Protégez-vous as the most important event in Quebec's retail sector in 2016, LOCO's opening enabled Marie-Soleil to spread the word in the Quebec media (RDI, Radio-Canada, TVA, V Télé, Le Devoir, La Presse, Métro, Médium-Large) not only about the zero-waste lifestyle, but also about the role of sustainable entrepreneurship in the ecological transformation of society.
Marie-Soleil has presented some 30 papers in Quebec and participated in panel discussions (World Social Forum, the Journée des entrepreneurs (Entrepreneurs' Day), scientific conferences) to inform scientists and non-scientists about the processes by which transitions at the societal level are achieved. She has also presented on the role of innovative entrepreneurs in these transitions. Her keen awareness of social and environmental problems and her commitment to do something about them have led Marie-Soleil to serve on the boards of various bodies, including municipal neighbourhood councils, an artists' cooperative, and an association to promote fair trade. She has also established a volunteership committee, organized volunteer activities in disadvantaged schools, engaged in fundraising and food-collection campaigns, chaired the environmental action group Équiterre Montréal, and mobilized citizens around environmental and social issues. She has been described as "a genuine example of a committed activist who has no shortage of ideas for helping to effect change toward a way of life that is more respectful of the environment."