Nearly every weekday morning, my wife gets up, nudges me and then moves on to the
challenge of coaxing our two kids out of bed. She then makes herself a cup of coffee and starts making lunches. She deserves a medal. Actually, she deserves a medal and a vacation, but that is another matter. As close as I can figure, she packs me around 210 lunches and our children a combined 360 lunches a year. That’s closing in on 600 lunches total, give or take, and doesn’t include summer camps or weekend activities. That is potentially a lot of waste! Fortunately, as a family, we are fairly environmentally conscious and watch how and what we are packing.
Here are some ideas that can help you pack a greener lunch.
Let’s start with lunch boxes. There is a large variety high quality, eco-friendly options on the market. My daughter and I both use a Planet Box. Planet Box offers several different sized stainless-steel lunch trays. We use the largest, The Rover, which has five compartments for food and a hinged cover that closes with a latch. Each kit also comes with an insulated bag that is made from recycled materials that has a bottle holder, a storage pocket, and comes in a variety of colors. Planet box also offers a bunch of accessories for your lunch experience; everything from sealed containers to magnets that customize the look of your box. All of their products are pretty tough and built to last. My daughter was gifted one when she entered kindergarten and the bag held up until 4th grade and box until 5th, they are very solid products. LunchBots is another company that offers similar, well-made, eco-friendly products.
Another way to go green at lunch time is to watch what you pack, it could help both you and the environment. Stay away from packaged goods, they create waste and usually contain foods that are over-processed. Try to find fresher, healthier products. Go organic! When shopping for produce try to choose organic goods. Pesticides and chemicals aren’t used in their farming; that’s keeping you, wildlife, and the planet healthier! Buy local, get as much of your meats and produce as you can at local markets. Buying locally helps your community, it supports farmers and markets in your area. Buying locally also cuts down on the food industries carbon footprint. Industrial farming and shipping cause an obscene amount waste and pollution, do your part in putting a stop to that, visit a local market!
Cut back on plastic items. From bags to utensils, our lunches can be full of plastics. Use older or mismatched utensils from home or try using other types of reusable utensils. There are some out there made from materials like bamboo that are better for your lunch and the environment. Use a wrap for your sandwiches! There are a numerous sandwich bags made from a variety of materials that are washable and that are smell and mildew resistant. Some even double as a lunch mat!
Another way to cut back on waste, especially plastic, is by using a reusable water bottle. There are numerous companies that produce water bottles from clean, eco-friendly, recycled materials. Klean Kanteen is a company that offers a wide variety of containers for both cold and warm beverages. They even have containers that feature seal-able, stainless-steel or bamboo lids that totally cut the need for plastic. These bottles can be expensive, but are built to last and are well worth the cost.
Use, or in this case reuse, what you already have! Save class jars and use them to store your lunches in. Jars can also be used for holding beverages, they make for a great water cup at work. My family eats a lot of Chinese take-out and we save the containers that soups and other meals come in. Plastic may not be an ideal choice but reusing them keeps them out of the landfills. You can also use these same containers to pack leftovers, thus doubling up on your efforts to cut back on waste!
These are just a few of the ways you can help the environment and yourself by packing a green lunch!