by Sherry Gray – Extension Instructor Nutrition Educator, EFNEP Supervisor Foods and Nutrition
With a little thought and preparation, it’s not hard to pack an eco−friendly lunch from home. You’ll end up with less waste and a healthier lunch. You don’t need to spend a fortune on expensive lunch containers. Pack simply and you will cut costs, too.
Eco-Friendly Lunches Are Simple…
You can get a head start on packing eco-friendly lunches once school starts in the fall. If you are not doing it yet, now is the time to transition to packing lunches that are affordable, environmentally friendly and nutritious. There is an abundance of local fresh produce that can be packed in a lunch box. With a little preparation, you are well on the way to reducing waste when packing your lunch.
Pack reusable containers…and even a cloth napkin!
Here are 8 tips to pack an eco-friendly lunch:
- Choose a reuseable lunch box.
Using an insulated, reuseable lunch box or bag will cut down on the waste of paper bags. It also makes it easier to bring reuseable containers home. You can find inexpensive styles in stores or online.
- Use reuseable plastic containers
Or re-useable sandwich bags. This will cut down on the use of plastic bags which reduces waste and conserves natural resources. Wash and reuse plastic baggies a few times before tossing them. Buy food in bulk and pack smaller portions in re-useable containers.
- Use a reuseable water bottle or beverage container.
There are many models to choose from. Daily juice boxes and plastic water bottles create a lot of unnecessary waste and cost more.
- Use a cloth napkin.
You will save a paper napkin every day which is considerable over a year’s time. If you like paper napkins, buy a brand that is made at least in part from recycled material.
- Use real silverware instead of plastic utensils.
Buy a couple sets of inexpensive re-useable silverware to use for lunches.
- Pack fresh food whenever possible.
Pack simple, unprocessed foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh lunch items cut down on waste and make a healthier lunch, too. Processed foods tend to have a lot more packaging and additives.
- Be a good role model…
Teach your kids how to pack an eco-friendly lunch. Children learn to be environmentally aware by following your lead. They will also be better nourished in the process.