9 Ways to Reduce Lunch Box Waste

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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.


Reducing Lunch Box waste
9 ways to reduce lunch box waste

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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.

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.

Reusable, Washable Lunch Napkin
Bring your own washable cloth rags to work instead of using paper towel


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.

Plastic Food Containers

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.

Glass Food Storage Containers
Photo credit: Anchor

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.)

Stanley Vacuum Bottle
Photo credit: Stanley

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!

The Coldest Water bottle
Photo credit: The Coldest Water


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

Reusable, Washable Straw set. Silicone straws and Stainless steel

Set of Stainless Steel Straws  (Say that fast three times!)

Stainless Steel Straw Set
Stainless Steel Straws

Set of Bamboo Straws (Natural, Reusable, Biodegradable)

Bamboo Straw Set. Reusable, washable, natural and biodegradable

Check out this bamboo straw set on Amazon.

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.

Thank you.

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