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FOOD & FITNESS / MAY. 17, 2014
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How to Pack a Waste-Free Lunch

Did you know that "school kids toss out 4.6 billion pounds of lunch waste." However, they aren't the only wasteful culprits. In fact, "Americans discard about 2.7 million tons of aluminum yearly, the largest source being used beverage and packaging containers."

It's no secret that we live in a wasteful society. Whether it's paper, clothes or food, tossing items in a garbage bin has become a convenient way to deal with things we don't need. And while it makes sense to discard certain items, learning how to be less wasteful can save money and protect the environment. 

The truth is, becoming less wasteful is much easier than you might think. You may not be able to cut back on waste entirely after only a few days or weeks. But if you start with one area in your life -- such as your lunch waste -- you can gradually incorporate waste-free methods into your everyday life. 

Here are six simple ways to pack a waste-free lunch. 

#1. Use a plastic container. 

Let's be honest, using a plastic sandwich bag is more convenient than a plastic, reusable container. Plastic bags are relatively inexpensive, and you can throw them away after each meal, reducing the amount of stuff you bring home, plus you don't have to wash plastic bags. But given how it takes plastic bags nearly 500 years to break down in a landfill, you owe it to the environment to consider waste-free, eco-friendly alternatives. 

Whether you're bringing a sandwich or leftover meals for lunch, always use a reusable, microwave-safe container. 

#3. Bring a reusable tote

Unless you plan to reuse your paper bag for several lunches, consider a reusable lunch tote instead. Even if your company recycles paper bags, a reusable tote saves money in the long run and reduces the amount of items placed in recycling bins. 

#4. Drink from a reusable container

It might be easier to bring a can of soda or bottled water for lunch. However, if your company doesn't have a recycle bin in the break room, these plastic bottles and aluminum cans will likely end up in the garbage adding waste. Do your part to reduce waste by pouring lunch beverages into a tightly-sealed reusable container.

#5. Metal forks, spoons, etc. and cloth napkins

If your noon meal requires utensils, skip the plastic disposable ones and bring a knife, fork or spoon from home. In addition, consider cloth napkins. Wash and reuse these for multiple lunches to save money and reduce paper waste. 

#6. Only bring what you plan to eat

Not only should you be concerned with plastic, paper and aluminum waste, but also food waste. As a rule of thumb, only bring what you plan to eat each day. This can reduce your daily calorie consumption, plus reduce how much you spend on lunch. This same guideline applies when ordering take-out for lunch. If you don't finish your lunch, save it for a mid-afternoon snack, or perhaps tomorrow's lunch.  

What steps have you taken to reduce lunch waste?

Image Credit: Flickr

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