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Banish Brown Bags and Plastic Baggies
The first thing to consider in your sack lunch is the sack. “Brown-bagging it” is not as good of an option as a reusable fabric lunch bag. Not only are they waterproof, insulated, and decorative, they don’t end up in the trash every day, as a brown bag would.
The second important step when packing a green lunch is to banish plastic baggies that are vacuum sealed (Here’s some vacuum sealers you may like!).
These, too, find their way into the trash can after only one use. Instead, choose plastic containers that can be washed and reused or an all-in-one plastic device that flips open like a book to fit a sandwich or panini on one side and store other compartmentalized foods, such as crackers, carrot sticks, and grapes. These containers can fit right into an insulated bag and are inexpensive, at about five dollars a kit. The Container Store is one good place to look for all-in-one lunch containers.
Making Smart Choices about Green Foods
Another way to go greener is to avoid food that is individually packaged. Manufacturers make their products in smaller, single-serving containers, such as mini bags of chips. These seem perfect for a grab-and-go lunch but require more resources to make the extra packaging and then result in more garbage. If you have a garbage problem, think about installing a garbage disposal, like the InSinkErator Garbage Disposal, or used an indoor compost bin.
If you have a hankering for potato chips, buy a big bag and portion out a serving size into a reusable container.
When choosing fruits and vegetables for your lunch, look for fresh, in-season selections. Insecticides on the exterior of some foods make them particularly unhealthy. Produce such as apples, peaches, celery, and strawberries have some of the highest pesticide loads. But other foods, such as bananas, are peeled, which limits your intake of dangerous chemicals.
For foods that are eaten with the skin on, it is healthier for both you and the environment to go organic. Organic foods are produced without pesticides and chemical fertilizers. They introduce fewer foreign substances into your body and the soil. Look for food with a USDA label of 100% organic.
The best drink for lunch is simply a bottle of water. Skip the expensive, pre-bottled waters and get your own reusable bottle. Then simply fill up at home or at the nearest drinking fountain.
With the right choices of food and containers, packing a green lunch is a snap!
While you’re here, be sure to check out our kitchen product reviews!