Environmentally responsible practices

More than a simple trend, the notion of environmental responsibility (which means acting in accordance with the principles of sustainable development) is growing in popularity. The general public is increasingly aware of the importance of sustainable development. People want to make environmentally responsible choices and to be offered such choices when they consume products and services: locally produced and fair-trade supplies, reduction at source, energy efficiency, and much more.

Whether you’re just beginning your journey of environmental responsibility or are already streamlining your practices, you’re sure to find some new ideas on this web page.

Environmentally responsible business

The Ville de Saint-Lambert, in collaboration with the Environment Committee and Réseau écocitoyen de Saint-Lambert (ecocitizens network), has developed a Guide du commerçant écoresponsable (in French only). Its purpose is to help business owners adopt the best consumer practices. Here you will find the main concepts explained in this guide.

The 5R’s principle, known in French as the Principe des 4RV, is the basis for all environmentally responsible processes. Familiarize yourself with its basic tenets, which should be applied in the following chronological order:

  • Rethink: Take the time to reflect on your real needs, your practices, and your consumer product choices.
  • Reduce: Avoid using products that quickly turn into waste. For example, avoid overpackaging, buying disposable products, or distributing promotional items.
  • Reuse: Give objects a second life. For example, use washable dishware or tablecloths. Use the reverse side of pieces of paper for drafts.
  • Recycle: When a product can no longer be reused, recycle it. In addition to reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfills, recycling reduces the pressure on raw materials. Check out beforehand whether a product is recyclable.
  • Recover: Convert your non-recyclable waste into energy or compost!


  • Choose local suppliers (located within 100 km);
  • Prioritize suppliers that adopt environmentally responsible practices: sustainable development policy, ISO certification, etc.


  • Buy in bulk and request reusable packaging from your suppliers. Examples: boxes, cases, pallets, etc.
  • If food is involved, choose seasonal, organic and fair-trade food items.
  • Give preference to refillable or rechargeable products, such as bottled condiments rather than individual packets, batteries, or ink cartridges.
  • Keep in mind the whole life cycle of articles purchased.

Find out about labels and current environmental statements in Canada: Office of Consumer Affairs.

Food consumed on the spot

  • Opt for washable foodware.

Take-out food

  • Offer a rebate to customers who bring their own reusable containers;
  • Develop your own reusable cups and dishes to earn customer loyalty;
  • Use biodegradable foodware (non-waxed, non-plasticized cardboard, bamboo, bagasse [plant fibre]);
  • Recyclable foodware (numbers 1 or 5 plastic).
Foodware to use
Did you know that…?

Polystyrene or number 6 plastic and waxed cardboards are not accepted in your recycling bin. These articles take hundreds of years to decompose in landfills.

Despite what their names suggest, biodegradable or oxo-biodegradable plastic containers are rarely accepted in organic waste collections. Avoid using them.

Here are some tips to help you adopt more environmentally responsible practices when it comes to packaging:

  • Prioritize the sale of bulk products and encourage your customers to bring their own containers. Take inspiration from the Loco grocery store in Montreal and register on Circuit Zéro Déchet for greater visibility.
  • Avoid overpackaging. Some products packaged in three layers might not need any at all. Ask yourself if packaging is necessary before bundling up a product.
  • Replace polystyrene trays by recyclable plates made of number 1 or number 5 plastic.
  • Avoid individual packaging for bread, butter, condiments, etc.
  • More compact packaging requires less material and reduces packaging costs.
  • Replace single-use plastic bags.
  • Ask customers if they want a bag rather than offering them one automatically.
  • Re-use your delivery boxes: offer them to customers to carry their purchases.
  • If you absolutely have to give a customer a bag, replace the traditional single-use plastic bag by a reusable bag.
  • Choose a durable bag made locally and from recycled materials. Choose an appealing design and think about its usefulness. Bag proposals were made in further to the recommendations of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM).

Distribute fewer promotional items. By doing so, you will avoid the needless costs associated with purchasing items that often just end up in the garbage!

Opt for truly practical items that your clients are sure to use. Examples:

  • A BPA-free water bottle or thermos
  • a reusable bag;
  • A USB key, etc.

Environmentally responsible promotional items should have the following qualities:

  • Made of recyclable materials
  • Entirely recyclable
  • Durable
  • Made locally
  • Suppliers committed to sustainable development
  • Have environmental or social certification.

Some Québec companies specialize in this type of product!

Keep in mind the whole life cycle of the product

Whole life cycle of the product

Source : Équiterre

Consult Équiterre’s Guide to Sustainable Promotional Products.

Here are some tips to help you manage your waste in an optimal and environmentally responsible manner:

  • Find out which recyclable materials are accepted at your sorting centre.
  • Pass on this information to your employees and make sure they have access to a recycling bin.
  • Flatten your cardboard boxes so they take up less space.
  • Provide a recycling bin alongside each garbage bin in your establishment, and, if applicable, a composting bin.
  • Install clear signs.
  • If you generate a lot of food waste, sign a private contract for organic waste collection. Promote this fact among your customers to earn their loyalty. Form partnerships with charitable organizations in your region to redistribute unsold foodstuffs. The Food Recovery Program of La Tablée des Chefs serves as a liaison agent between producers of food surpluses and organizations that distribute food to people in need.
  • Dispose of your hazardous household waste in the proper manner by using the services of a certified organization.
  • Take your obsolete electronic products to an authorized drop-off point.
  • Consult the ARPE-Québec directory to find a local drop-off point.
  • Dispose of your construction, renovation, or demolition debris by using the services of a member of the Regroupement des Récupérateurs et des Recycleurs de Matériaux de Construction et de Démolition du Québec;
  • Become a drop-off point: light bulbs and fluorescent tubes, paint et par batteries and cellphones.

Here are a few tips to help you reduce your business’ energy consumption:

  • Use ENERGY STAR®certified LED bulbs. In addition to their low energy consumption, these bulbs have a much longer service life than incandescent bulbs.
  • Consult Hydro-Québec’s energy-wise safety advice at LED lighting.
  • Turn off the lights when you leave rooms.
  • Install motion detectors.
  • Switch off any computer equipment when leaving your business in the evening.
  • Check your building insulation.
  • Eliminate air leaks by caulking drafty windows and doors and installing weather stripping.
  • Insulate your hot water tank and pipes to save on water and energy. By lowering the temperature by just 1 °C, you can save from 5 to 7% on your heating costs.
  • Turn down the thermostat in the evenings and on days when your business is closed.
  • Install a programmable thermostat.
  • Choose green electricity and consider renewable forms of energy.
  • Opt for ENERGY STAR®certified products.
  • Green your walls and roof. Green walls and roofs offer several benefits: they are aesthetic, anti-polluting, insulating, and economical; they protect the building façade and roof against UV rays, etc. You can even grow your own herbs and vegetables on them,

Here are a few tips to help you reduce your potable water consumption.

  • Repair any leaks immediately! A leaky tap wastes from 140 to 680 litres of drinking water a day, while a leaky toilet wastes up to 550 litres of potable water a day.
  • Install aerators on your taps to limit the flow while maintaining sufficient pressure.
  • Replace standard toilets by low-flow toilets. Using a standard toilet requires 12 to 20 litres per flush compared to 3 to 6 litres per flush for a high-efficiency toilet.
  • Opt for WaterSense® certified products when buying fittings, sanitary fixtures and watering systems.

Here are a few tips to help you use transportation in an environmentally responsible way.

  • Make your deliveries by bicycle, cargo bike, or electric vehicle.
  • Install a bicycle stand near your store or business.
  • Install quick charging stations in your parking lot to encourage electric vehicle owners to visit your business.
  • Meet with a travel management consulting services company for sustainable transportation solutions adapted to your needs and those of your employees.
Download the Guide du commerçant écoresponsable

Got questions?

Call the Info-environment line at 450-672-4444 or write to environnement@saint-lambert.ca.

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