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Back to school with eco-friendly lunches and snacks

Actu - Geste lunchs et collations écoresponsables

Whether you’re a parent, student, employee or all three, back to school means back to packing a lot of lunches and snacks. However, it can be done efficiently and economically, while minimizing waste and your carbon footprint.

Here are some Équiterre tips to make back-to-school time easier and eco-friendly!

Buy in bulk

When it comes to lunches and snacks, responsible consumption begins at the grocery store. Opt for packaging-free products, which you can find in zero-waste stores or in the bulk section of certain grocery stores. By steering clear of individually wrapped snacks, which are over-packaged and often too small, you’ll save money too! A few hot spots for bulk buying and zero-waste shopping:

Choose reusable containers

Whether you eat lunch at work or take a lunch box, use reusable—not single-use—containers, bottles and cutlery. You can find a wide range of sturdy, non-toxic plastic and glass containers on the market, some made from recycled materials, as well as locally-made lunch boxes and reusable bags with pretty designs. Click here for more information on zero-waste snacks and beverages (in French).

Reuse containers

Keep empty jam jars (Mason) as well as yogurt and other airtight containers and extend their useful life by using them to pack lunches and snacks. But remember: these types of containers are not microwave-safe. Ziploc bags and milk bags can also be washed and used several times. Time to get creative with reuse!

Opt for large formats

If you don’t live near a bulk store, why not buy products in large sizes and then divide them into snack-size portions? As well as saving money, you’ll minimize waste.


Make lunches and snacks with local organic and, when possible, fair-trade produce. This encourages local producers and keeps the local economy humming. It also reduces greenhouse gases associated with transporting goods. Pesticide-free organic products preserve our health and our ecosystems, and fair-trade products ensure better living conditions for small producers in the Global South.


Setting up a bulk buying group with friends, family or co-workers to reduce the cost of buying fresh produce is a brilliant idea. There are several buying clubs in Montreal and elsewhere, and many of them specialize in local organic and fair-trade products. Here are a few suggestions:

You’ll find lots more on the Web and Facebook.

Get cooking

Do you keep burning the pasta and drowning your salads in dressing? Opt for healthy, easy-to-prepare recipes and snacks. With practice, you’ll gain confidence and soon be hooked! We recommend cooking large quantities and freezing the extra portions. You’ll save time and always have lunch ready to go! Need ideas? Check out these links for inspiration:

Have an eco-friendly back-to-school season and bon appétit!