Below is a list of 9 ways for reducing lunch box waste. You may be curious for yourself, your spouse or your children and all the suggestions below can help you cut back on lunch waste.
Table of Contents
- 2 1) Lunch Bag basics
- 3 2) Reusable Ice Packs
- 4 3) Reusable “camping” utensils
- 5 4) Washable face wipes
- 6 5) Ditch the plastic bags and adopt reusable containers
- 7 6) Keeping food hot or cold
- 8 7) Water bottle
- 9 8) Reusable, washable straws
- 10 9) Giving a Hoot!
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1) Lunch Bag basics
There is an awesome variety of lunch pails and bags out there.
I like the look of the classic blue-collar lunch pail.
The one below is from Stanley and it has that classic, retro look.
Plus there are a lot of cool metal Bento Boxes for sale now too. They have compartments to help organize your lunch items. Check out this one made by GreenLunch Bento by clicking here.
2) Reusable Ice Packs
If you are a construction worker or in another industry where you don’t have access to a fridge then this is for you.
I work in a pharmacy and I’m blown away by the waste that can accumulate. The drug wholesaler we receive our medication from does not reuse their ice packs. They pack refrigerated items with ice packs, but then they don’t reuse the packs.
I can’t speak for all pharmacies, and all the drug wholesalers out there, but we get our medicine from a very big wholesaler. This means that your local pharmacy may deal with them too. They probably have a lot of ice packs they got for free. So ask them if you can have some of the ice packs that come with the refrigerated medications.
Innovative Product Highlight
This cool product by PackIt combines a lunch bag and a reusable ice pack into one.
You freeze the entire bag overnight and then in the morning take it out and put your lunch into it. Pretty clever.
You can see more details on Amazon.
3) Reusable “camping” utensils
I think most of us already either use the utensils at work or bring our own from home, but if you currently don’t, or you like to get takeout then keep a set of these in your lunch bag. You can often find them at your local outdoor sports and camping store.
I found an interesting set on Amazon made of bamboo. It doesn’t come with a knife though which could be a drawback depending on what you bring for lunch.
4) Washable face wipes
I was guilty of being a paper towel user at lunch time. It was just a habit: grab my food and grab a piece of paper towel then sit down and make a huge mess (just kidding I’m not that bad).
But when I started looking into reducing my garbage waste I realized I was tossing out a lot of paper towel. My work place doesn’t have a compost so that isn’t an option. But what is an option, a great option, is bringing my own washable cloth napkins from home.
So simple yet so useful.
Below is a picture of the reusable, washable napkin that I’ve started bringing to work. I bought some from my local Canadian Tire store, but bringing any cloth napkin or rag from home will do the trick. Actually the real “trick” is just remembering to bring it and use it.
5) Ditch the plastic bags and adopt reusable containers
Do you send your kids to school with snacks in plastic baggies? Do they come back home? Judging by the amount of litter I see around schoolyards, I’d say no, they don’t all come back.
5a) Reusable plastic food containers
This is where it can get a bit tricky if you are trying to reduce the amount of plastic you use. Do you buy a set of reusable, washable plastic containers even though they are plastic?
Depending on the age of your kids the answer may be yes. You’ll get a heck of a lot more uses from these sets than you do a plastic baggy. And because they are lighter than glass and they don’t smash they could be a safer option too.
I don’t microwave in plastic containers even if says microwave safe. And I also don’t like to put hot items into plastic.
But some people want to outright avoid plastic containers – especially for their kids – so there are some glass options. And you can buy silicone sleeves that wrap around mason jars and glass containers to prevent breakage. Or you could even sew your own protective sleeves to wrap around glass food containers.
5b) Reusable glass food containers
Several companies make glass options for food storage containers. One thing I like about them is the ability to microwave your food directly in them without having to transfer to a separate glass bowl.
I have the set by Anchor shown below.
The one negative thing about the set is that over time the plastic lids crack along the edges. And the other thing that sucks about them – though it isn’t their fault at all – is that everyone I know seems to have them. It’s like they went on sale and all my coworkers bought them at the same time!
Check out the Anchor food storage set on Amazon.
And even though many of them come with plastic lids, and you may want to avoid plastic, you can buy silicone covers that stretch over the top of the container. This would work well for a lot of leftovers, but I don’t think I’d want my soup spilling into my lunch bag.
6) Keeping food hot or cold
There are some awesome vacuum sealed food storage containers that will keep your soup hot right up until lunchtime. This can be a huge benefit if there is a lineup to use the microwave at your workplace or out your child’s school. I know sometimes my daughter will come home with her lunch uneaten because the lineup to use the microwave was too long.
The product below should help solve that.
Old Fashioned Styling
The vacuum bottle shown below is the “Classic Vacuum Bottle” by Stanley. Stanley has been around since 1913 so they nail the vintage look. Even their smallest vacuum bottle is said to keep hot food hot, and cold food cold for 15 hours. That is plenty of time between prepping your lunch in the morning and when you get a chance to eat it. (Unless of course you’re the poor sleep-deprived doctor doing a 28 hour shift.)
7) Water bottle
This one seemed so obvious, yet I almost forgot to even add it to the list. Sometimes I forget that just because I’ve heard something over and over it doesn’t mean you have. It may be your first time reading about this stuff. So, obvious or not here is a gentle reminder to bring a reusable water bottle to work or school.
I recently bought my girlfriend a Manna water bottle and she loves it. I bought it from a local store, but if you can’t find a good one locally I’ve added the link above so you can check out Amazon.
If you want a super cool, as in coldest water bottle designed by engineers, then check out “The Coldest Water” bottle pictured below. Maybe this will work for you on those hot summer days!
8) Reusable, washable straws
The amount of waste produced each and every day by disposable straws has been receiving more public attention lately. But are you doing something about it? Are you refusing straws when they’re unnecessary and using your own washable straws when required?
Here are some options for reusable, washable straws including stainless steel, bamboo, and silicone straws.
The straws shown below are likely available from your local stores, but if not you can check them out on Amazon.
Silicone Straw Set that comes with Two Stainless Steel Straws
Set of Stainless Steel Straws (Say that fast three times!)
Set of Bamboo Straws (Natural, Reusable, Biodegradable)
9) Giving a Hoot!
This one isn’t a product or an item: it’s a state of mind. It is your willingness to care. And I believe that since you’ve read this far, you do care. So cheers to you!
It is your willingness to look different by pulling out your own napkin, your own straw and refuse disposable items that will quietly set you apart from your friends and coworkers. But fear not because what you are doing now will become the norm, and you’ll have been a trendsetter! They will follow in your footsteps.