8 Tips for Zero Waste Lunches
Updated: Jan 8, 2022
Going #wastefree can seem daunting or, if we're being honest, damn near impossible. Everything has some form of waste, right? If it doesn't have plastic packaging, it's grown somewhere super far away or goes bad before you can finish it all. To go waste free, you must need to plan every meal so far in advance and have an unlimited paycheck, that you might as well not even try! Well, take a deep breath. We're going to make having a greener lunch not only possible, but easy.
1. Skip the Straw
Let's start with the easiest! Plastic straws are making headlines as environmental activists fight to ban them for being the epitome of single-use plastics. This is great news for the environment and you, since it's forcing restaurants and other businesses to either offer alternatives or ask before adding one to your drink. Join the movement, say no to plastic straws, and take the first little step to having a waste-free lunch.
2. Ditch Plastic Bags
Speaking of saying good-bye to single use plastics, try switching plastic lunch bags for greener alternatives like beeswax paper exist. While beeswax paper may seem cost-inhibitive at first, these bad boys pay for themselves within a month. Made of cloth and wax, they're plastic-free, compostable, and can be used to wrap anything expect meat, making them practically waste-free. Plus, they're reusable! When you're done using one, wipe it off with a sponge or wet paper towel, and it'll be go to go for next time. I've been a fanatic about cleaning mine and they've lasted over 6 months, which makes them a great investment for your wallet and the Earth.
3. Reusable Bottles
An even easier switch is from plastic to reusable water bottles, and I don't mean you should go buy a reusable plastic water bottle, cover it with bumperstickers, and pat yourself on the back. I mean take a minute to think about all of the single use beverage containers you use each week. Your morning coffee, diet coke at lunch, and afternoon tea all come in single use containers you could swap for reusable ones.
4. BYO Utensils
Whether you're in the break room or getting take out, skip the plastic cutlery and opt for reusable forks and knives instead. It doesn't matter if these are bamboo utensils you saw online or just ones you took from your drawer at home so long as you remember to take them with you each day. Using one less plastic fork a day adds up quicker than you'd think.
5. Bring Don't Buy
Most bought lunches have some sort of plastic with them, whether it's a microwavable meal, a sandwich in saran wrap, or take out that comes in plastic containers. So instead of trying to find some way around these sing-use plastics, try being in control of your lunch from the very beginning and bring your own lunch. This let's you pick what kind of packaging you use and what you have each day. It's a bit more work, but your wallet and your planet will thank you.
6. Glass Tupperware
Now that you're bring your meals, consider investing in some glass tupperware to bring last night's leftovers in for today's lunch. Using glass instead of plastic containers cuts down on plastic, which is great, but it's also a smart investment. Glass is both microwave and dishwasher safe and it lasts longer than plastic, or lasts longer in a form you'd like to use. A win-win!
7. Invest in a Lunch Box
Now that you're bring lunch, you need something to bring it to work in. You can use a brown paper bag, but those only last so long and once they get food on them, you can't recycle them anymore. You can upcycle a plastic bag, but that too can only make it through so many back-and-forths from home to your office. Consider buying (or making if you're that talented) a lunch box, one you really like. Having a set lunch box can help you get into the bring-not-buy mindset and get you more excited about what you're bringing.
8. Eat Less Meat
Meat is one of the most wasteful food products out there. Raising livestock requires an enormous amount of land, water, and food, and it generates more waste than any crop. So if you're thinking of living a more earth-conscious life, consider cutting back on all meat, but especially red meats since those animals take longer to mature. You don't have to become vegetarian to make an impact. Even taking meat out of your diet one or two days a week adds up, and cuts down on your carbon footprint.
These may seem like little steps, but taken together, you can waste less during your lunches. Who knows, maybe you will inspire those at your lunch table to do the same.