Go Green for Lunch

When my husband and I moved in together in college, we were both going to school full time and working, and so we always ate at least one meal away from home each day. Eating out was getting too expensive, so we started packing our lunches each morning. That took care of a lot of the excess cost, but I was still unhappy with how much we were spending on plastic zipper baggies. I had recently become really involved with the environmental club on campus, and was examining our lifestyle for ways in which we could lessen our impact on the planet. Going through several boxes of plastic bags each month seemed irresponsible, so we made the change to reusable plastic containers. It has made a huge difference in the amount of packaging waste we generate, as we still each take a packed lunch to work five days a week.

While generally it’s best to avoid buying plastic products, I feel like the plastic containers are an okay compromise. We’re still using a lot of the containers we bought back in 2002. Because they come in all shapes and sizes, it’s pretty easy to find everything you might need to pack your favorite lunch.

I use sandwich-shaped ones for sandwiches, of course, but they’re also great for taking veggies and dip, cookies, pasta salad, and just about anything else you can fit into a shallow square tub. I use little round ones for crackers, cookies, cottage cheese, and other things that don’t start with C. When we fix spaghetti or soup for dinner, we’ll scoop the leftovers directly into single-serving-sized containers and have lunches pre-packed for the next few days. Since there are questions as to the safety of microwaving food in plastic containers, we use Pyrex bowls with lids for things that need to be reheated.

The containers also help with portion control. Instead of taking a whole bag of animal crackers and trying to resist them after the first two handfuls, I just take a two-handful-sized dish of them. I’ve seen containers in one-cup and two-cup sizes at the store, so it would be easy to use them to help measure out portions if you need to mind your servings carefully. They’re also really cute, as you can see in the above photo. I get compliments on my lunch all the time at work, and I’ve converted my office-mate to the wisdom of reusables.

They’re vastly cheaper than using plastic baggies every day, and produce very little waste over time. As far as green solutions go, reusable lunch containers seem like a pretty easy step to take!

And sometimes, you can even score really, REALLY cute ones, like the one my mom bought for me last week:

An original 5 Minutes for Going Green post. On most days you can find Velocibadgergirl at Pardon the Egg Salad, where she blogs about travel, her spoiled pets, science geekery, and whatever else comes to mind.

4 Responses to Go Green for Lunch
  1. Kerri Anne (kerrianne.org)
    February 4, 2009 | 2:25 am

    I totally want that dinosaur sandwich container. So awesome.

  2. Is it Easy Being Green
    February 6, 2009 | 1:12 pm

    For some great lunch packaging ideas, check out http://veganlunchbox.blogspot.com/.

  3. Val
    September 29, 2009 | 11:50 pm

    Great ideas! I love the stainless steel containers from Kids Konserve.

  4. Tracey
    March 13, 2010 | 7:59 pm

    Thank you for reminding us that 5 minutes is all it takes to be green. For your readers in Australia who want to reuse instead of waste, Kids Konserve is now available in Australia.