Bringing lunch with you to school or work is a great way to eat better and save money. While there are many benefits to packing your own lunch there is one major environmental concern: single use disposable packaging generates significant amounts of waste.
The Center for American Progress (CAP) just ran a great short piece on how to green up your child’s school lunch. CAP estimates each average school-age child who has mostly single serving packaged items in their lunch generates 67 pounds of waste each school year. CAP suggests packaging a zero-waste lunch.
Here’s the basic things to remember:
- Reuse your beverage container. Use a thermos or a reusable water bottle to carry liquids.
- Pack a reusable lunch bag. Using the same lunch bag every day creates no waste and is an affordable one-time purchase. You can probably even reuse a bag you already have.
- Buy in bulk. Buy family-sized packages of cookies, crackers, and chips, rather than individually packaged snacks, and then pack the desired amount each day.
- Use reusable containers for food. Use Tupperware, or whenever possible wash out old food packaging for reuse. This is great for transporting leftovers.
- Rise out of old food containers. Reuse old food packaging to avoid throwing it out.
- Bring your fork from home. Remembering to pack reusable utensils will prevent wasting hundreds of plastic forks, knives, and spoons every year. You can also keep a set of washable cloth napkins on hand to prevent unnecessary use of paper ones.
It’s almost always easier, and cheaper, to replace disposable packaging items with reusable materials. And they’ll save you less trips to the store in the long run, as well as money on things such as plastic and paper bags.