Simple Guide to Packing a Waste-Free Lunch

Did you know that the average American throws away over 1,130 pounds of waste per year, with school lunches making up about 67 of those pounds?  You can reduce the amount of lunch items you send to the landfill, as well as CO2 emissions, by packing a waste-free lunch for yourself and family.  You’ll save money too by skipping the take-out food.

The rule of thumb for packing a waste-free lunch is that everything within it can be eaten, reused, recycled or composted.

The first step is to reduce unnecessary packaging before you pack your lunch by purchasing groceries in bulk.  Bring reusable bags to place your produce in, and avoid buying individually-wrapped items. Even products like juice, yogurt, and trail mix can be bought in bulk packages and then portioned out into reusable containers.

Which brings us to the next step – invest in a good set of reusable containers and utensils. Here’s a checklist:

  • Insulated, reusable lunchbox.  You can even buy bags made from recycled materials!
  • Reusable main dish and side dish containers, such as Tupperware or reusable sandwich sleeves
  • Stainless steel set of silverware
  • Cloth napkins
  • Reusable drink containers, such as a stainless steel canteen

For those wanting to go the extra mile, encourage your workplace or children’s schools to incorporate composting into their waste and recycling program. Food waste such as fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, and breads can be composted and used as food to fertilize plants.

I myself am a culprit of using plastic ZIPloc baggies for sandwiches and fruit.  To go waste-free, I’m going to invest in some reusable sandwich sleeves.  An Austin-based company called BlueAvocado offers these, as well as a range of reusable shopping and lunch kits made from plastic bottles.

Assorted green go-pak bags from BlueAvocado.

As a special offer for Green Mountain customers, is offering a 20% discount off any item now through July 30, 2011 when you shop online.   Just enter promo code “GMEC20” at checkout and be on your way to waste-free lunches!