By: Morgan O’Connor, Marketing EcoFellow
Whether you’re going back to school or back to work, it’s time to start thinking about how much of your lunch you’re actually eating. According to the EPA, students who bring lunch from home every day generate 67 pounds of waste a year! Follow these seven easy steps to practicing zero waste and keep your lunch out of the landfill and in your stomach!
Tips for a Zero Waste Lunch
- Get creative with your lunch bag! Ditch the disposable brown bag for a reusable bag or lunchbox.
- Bring Your Own Utensils – Leaving a set of utensils in your lunch bag or at your desk will guarantee that you will always have the fork you need! Carrying a cutlery set including a spoon, fork, knife and chopsticks is a relatively cheap option. You can even have a spare set for a friend!
- Instead of using disposable paper towels or napkins, keep a reusable napkin in your lunch bag. You can pack a handkerchief with your lunch and wash it with your laundry!
- Re-sealable is not necessarily reusable– Switch out your plastic sandwich bags and save! Nowadays there are so many options for replacing disposable plastic sandwich bags that there is sure to be one for you. Reusable sandwich bags can be easily washed, but even better try beeswax paper! It’s reusable, washable, and compostable. It also could be used as a general plastic wrap/aluminum foil replacement.
- Reusable Containers– Disposable food containers are one of the most bulky pieces of waste from your lunch that goes into the landfill. Skip the Styrofoam and non-recyclable plastic containers. Use reusable containers and it will not only keep food out of the landfill, but your lunch will remain intact during your commute. If you do not own reusable containers, opt for stainless steel or glassware to cut down on contaminants and guarantee a longer life for your container.
- The final straw- If you must use a straw, buy a reusable stainless steel They may seem insignificant, but 500 million straws are thrown away every day in America, that adds up!
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Remember that this is not just a saying, but a reminder of the order in which one should act. Reducing and reusing packaging from your lunch should come before recycling whenever possible, because recycled goods still require energy and materials to be produced and later recycled.
So before you go out and purchase a whole new container set look at what you have at home- you may already have an old cloth napkin that’s been stained from one too many Thanksgiving dinners and a mason jar! Try this simple recipe for the mason jar salad in the photo above!
Zero Waste Mason Jar Salad
Quinoa of your choice
The genius to this salad is that the layers keep your leafy greens crisp at the top, while the tomatoes soak up the flavor of your salad dressing at the bottom. To achieve this fill your mason jar in the following order- balsamic and oil mixture, tomatoes, quinoa, arugula. Voila! A salad in a jar that looks as good as it tastes! Remember to pack only what you will eat, and compost the leftovers (though we doubt you’ll have any) so you can reduce your waste.