Whether your kids are back at school or you’re headed back to the office, do Mother Nature a favour and start packing a zero-waste lunch. Get into some of our best tips and favourite products to help you reduce your eco-footprint and pack a more sustainable lunch.
What is a zero-waste lunch?
You may have heard the term before or seen a ‘zero-waste’ challenge or two advertised, but what exactly is a zero-waste lunch? Quite simply, a zero-waste lunch doesn’t create any more waste at the end of your meal. This means avoiding any single-use plastics like zip-top bags, cling-film, paper napkins or plastics utensils, as well as individually wrapped snacks, yogurt cups, and anything else that ends up in the garbage bin. While it sounds challenging, it is much easier than you think. On top of being more environmentally friendly, it is also a more economical choice and a money saver in the long run.
It starts with shopping
Lunch tends to be a meal of convenience, and the grocery store is chock full of grab-and-go foods to make it a quick affair. Try to resist the temptation. Before heading to the store, consider making a meal plan and exploring some recipes for the week to use for meal prep. More than just another trend, meal prep is a great way to reduce waste and eat healthier. The key to meal prep is to keep things simple. Choose straightforward, easy meals that you or your children will enjoy eating multiples of for the week.
When you are out shopping, you can also help to reduce waste by bringing your own produce bags and reusable bags for your goods. Ulster Weavers has a great collection of roll-up reusable bags that you can easily keep in your purse for whenever you might need one. Established in 1880 (and a supplier of kitchen textiles to Queen Elizabeth II herself), simply unclip and unroll the bag at your convenience.
Wrap it in beeswax
What can’t bees do? We certainly own them a lot. Aside from being the best pollinators, a beeswax wrap is the ultimate alternative to cellophane. It is made from a base fabric (usually cotton), which is coated in food-grade beeswax, rosin (a plant resin), and an oil like coconut and jojoba. The wax coating allows the wrap to be breathable, but also water-resistant. This makes beeswax wraps perfect for food storage including fruits, vegetables, sandwiches, wraps, cheese, or cookies. Cleaning is simple – use cool water to rinse and allow them to air dry. Best part? Beeswax wraps can last up to a year and can be composted at the end of its lifespan.
Reuse and repack
Avoiding single-use items is essential to packing an environmentally sustainable lunch. Thankfully, there are so many great options for reusable packing, and some of them are already in your kitchen. For starters, there’s no need for plastic cutlery when a regular fork or spoon will do. You can also reuse glass jars to pack a great salad or a yogurt parfait without costing you a dime. For those not great with glass, a stainless-steel food jar is perfect for kids, and can hold a wide variety of foods. Keep food hot for up to five hours or cold for twelve hours. They are easy to clean, and you don’t have to worry about stained Tupperware from chili or curry.
Keep it all together in a reusable lunch bag. A simple cloth bag makes for a great travelling option that you can keep in the office fridge, in addition to being easy to wash. For your little ones, consider an adorable insulated and food safe lunch bag that will last for years to come. Waste-free and fun!
Drink from a reusable bottle
Reusable water bottles and coffee mugs can have a huge impact on your carbon footprint. Not only does it replace all the plastics you would have used otherwise, but it also takes less oil to produce a reusable bottle than it does a plastic one. In fact, carrying a reusable water bottle might also be better for your health. According to a study from the World Health Organization, microplastics were found in 90% of bottled waters – nearly double the amount found in tap water. Steel is a non-toxic alternative, which makes a stainless steel water bottle a perfect solution by eliminating the risk of leaching toxins into your beverage.
We also adore our Chic Mic Bamboo Travel Mugs made from renewable bamboo fibre, corn starch and melamine. They are odor-free, have a high-quality lid lock to prevent spillage, and are dishwasher safe. Plus, they come in a wide variety of adorable patterns to add a touch of fun to those early mornings.
What are some of your best tips for sustainable packing or go-to meal prep ideas?