How to Pack a Sustainable Lunch

Photo by  Qearl Hu  on  Unsplash

Photo by Qearl Hu on Unsplash


Some of you might prep your lunches year-round to bring to the office. Others might be getting back into the routine of putting together a lunch for children who have returned to school. Or maybe you’re a teacher, or a student yourself? Whatever your situation, we’re here to show you how you can make your lunch a little greener.

1. Try Not to Brown Bag It

Buying a set of paper sacks isn’t the worst thing you can do—after all, you can recycle them or even use the same one several times over. However, these are only best-case scenarios. What if your child accidentally throws it into the trashcan instead of the recycling bin at school? If you’re eating at the office or at a park downtown, where will that bag go if recycling options aren’t readily accessible? Investing in a reusable lunch bag ensures that you reduce waste, and that you do it on the regular.

2. Purchase Reusable Containers and Cutlery

Instead of regularly spending your money on water bottles, juice boxes, or plastic baggies, do yourself a favor and purchase reusable items you can use again and again. Go ahead and throw some bamboo or stainless steel forks and spoons into the mix too! Your wallet will thank you, and this is another great way to reduce waste.

3. Make a List (and Check it Twice)

Speaking of waste, raise your hand if you’ve ever had to throw rotten produce or other expired items into the trash at the end of the week (perhaps while shedding a tear of guilt). We’ve all been there, but you can avoid it by planning your meals ahead of time and making a thorough grocery list before hitting the aisle. You can’t throw away extra food if you don’t over shop in the first place!


4. Avoid Unnecessary Packaging

If you’re handy in the kitchen, have fun trying your hand at recipes for homemade granola bars or fruit smoothies. You’ll save a lot of wrappers and bottles from going to the landfill in the process. Pressed for time, or maybe cooking just isn’t your thing? You can still make an impact by buying in bulk. Switch the individual bags of crackers or pretzels for a larger one, or bring your own containers and shop in the bulk aisle for items like nuts and grains.


5. Try Cloth Napkins

Paper towels and napkins are generally made from recycled materials, which makes their fibers too short to be reused again. In addition, only items that are free of contaminants (read: food particles) can be placed into a recycling bin. You can take them home and add them to your compost bin if you remember, but otherwise, your only choice is to toss them into the trash bin. We suggest using cloth napkins instead—just purchase enough for a week’s use, throw them into the wash when needed, and you’re ready to go!