For years, packing lunch has meant one thing: a lot of single-use plastic. Ziplock bags, plastic cutlery, juice pouches, and fruit cups are just a few of the items that end up in landfills. But here’s the good news: packing a sustainable lunch has never been easier. It just takes a little creativity. Here are a few easy things you can do to lunch more sustainably.
Skip Individually Wrapped Foods
Throwing together a lunch of pre-packaged food is easy, you got us there. But the convenience comes with a cost. Over time, you’re literally paying more for less food. Not to mention, the environment pays for the pile of trash you leave behind.
So take a look at what’s normally in your lunch. With a small upfront investment in containers and a little added prep time, you can have your cake and eat it (less wastefully), too!
- Let’s say your child loves a good Jello cup for lunch. Instead of buying the pre-packaged single-serve containers at the grocery store, you can make an entire box of Jello for less than $1. Pour it into small single-serving sized containers, like 4 oz. mason jars, and before you know it you’ll have homemade, reusable Jello cups.
- But don’t stop with Jello, you could do this with pudding, yogurt, peanut butter… you name it! For any individually wrapped food, there is probably a bulk option that is less expensive and kinder for the environment. Preparing and packaging everything can even be a fun activity for you and your kids to do together. It’s a great opportunity to talk about nutrition and portion sizes as well as single-use plastic pollution and the importance of reusing.
You can eat more sustainably without having to buy a lot of new stuff. Instead of using a plastic fork or spoon, use one of your “real” forks from home. Instead of grabbing a paper towel or a paper napkin, use an old dish rag and throw it in the wash when it gets dirty. Here are some other reusable you can add to your lunchbox:
- Plastic sandwich and snack bags? Never heard of ‘em! Instead, you can use beeswax wraps or these airtight, reusable silicone storage bags by Stasher. We love them because they come in a variety of sizes. Whether you’re packing a sandwich, fruit, nuts, or even a salad, they make throwing lunch together incredibly easy.
- And if you don’t want to eat a sandwich or salad for every meal, that’s where this rad food flask by Hydroflask comes in. It keeps your favorite meals at the optimal temperature whether they’re hot or cold. It’s made from professional-grade stainless steel and won’t hold onto old flavors, which means you won’t taste the soup you ate yesterday.
- Let’s not forget the star of the show here⏤the lunchbox itself! Instead of single-use paper bags, use a reusable lunch bag. If you’re in the market for a new one, this mini cooler by Fjallraven helps keep your lunch cold or hot. Plus, there’s a pocket inside that fits a reusable ice pack. And you can hook your FinalStraw to one of the zippers!
Don’t Forget The Drinks
It’s not just the juice boxes that are wasteful, it’s also the coffee cups, soda and water bottles that you should find reusable alternatives for.
- Carrying a tumbler wherever you go will ensure that you’ll always stay hydrated (and caffeinated). We love that a tumbler can be used for your morning coffee and then one quick rinse later, it can hold your water for the rest of the day! Corkcicle’s Classic Tumbler is great for both hot and cold drinks and brings sipping sustainably to a whole new level. And of course, your FinalStraw fits in the lid, too!
- Speaking of FinalStraw… we might be a little bit biased, but we’re pretty confident a reusable, collapsible straw is a staple item when it comes to a sustainable lunch kit. Whether you’re in the cafeteria or out to lunch with coworkers, you can suck responsibly! Not to mention, a FinalStraw is definitely a conversation starter. Say goodbye to idle lunch chatter and hello to deep conversations about the importance of eliminating single-use plastic from our lives!
Take It One Step Further
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention how your lunch can be more sustainable in more ways than just waste reduction. Meat and dairy products tend to have higher environmental impacts than plant-based foods. You could consider participating in Meatless Mondays or packing one lunch a week that is vegetarian or vegan. And as for all of those vegetables, shop locally and in-season! Not only will you support your local community, but by reducing the need for produce to travel long distances, you’re reducing the carbon impact your lunch has on the Earth.