Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Greener Lunch Bag

It's time for back-to-school for me!

When I worked in an office, it completely shocked me how much people go out for lunch or bring in pre-made foods. Is it any wonder that the average child's school lunch creates 67 pounds of trash over a single school year? I can easily see the average adult or student throwing away at least half that. Call me old-fashioned, but I have packed a lunch for school through high school and well into college for practically every meal. Lately, I've been upgrading my traditional lunch bag to make it even more ecofriendly than it already is. Here's what I've been doing.

Start with a bag. It should be reusable and preferably insulated. You can find them at thrift stores with very odd logos on the front, or buy one if you must. Mine currently advertises a marathon from 1998. Then, I normally add a blue ice container. They refreeze and last for a long time, so a small one is a good addition to keep your food from going off on a hot day.

Then add the food. I pack in reusable containers which are microwave safe, letting me reheat at school. I admit that I still use Zip-Locks for small things, but I wash them afterwards and reuse them ad infinitum, so it's less wasteful than plastic wrap. Throw water, soda, or juice in a reusable water bottle (BPA-free) or a metal bottle. I have mine in my purse or backpack anyway, so I don't toss this in with food, but it's better than pre-bottled anything. What to pack? How about some sneaky vegetarian food or a pair of tofu tacos?

Use in some real, metal cutlery. If you're worried about losing it, get some thrift shop randoms you don't care about and that don't match anything. Add a cloth napkin if you're daring. You can hem old t-shirts or some scrap calico to make some, if you'd like. This was my biggest change, and it took away my primary waste. I never use the whole napkin, so a cloth one is much more useful.

If the bag has wasted space or won't attach to whatever you need it to, wrap it in a furoshiki. I prefer the long object wrap for this. I wrap my lunchbag in a furoshiki and tie it to my laptop case for easy travel. It's one less object in my hands!

That's my lunchbag. What's in yours?

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