Back to school season is well behind us now, but packing healthy lunches that are entirely waste-free is a challenge I try to embrace all year round.
In an effort to live a more conscious and sustainable lifestyle, one of my main goals is to produce less waste. Why? As most of you probably already know, there is a serious waste problem in Canada, and the worst part is that we as consumers are huge contributors! The more waste we produce, the more our planet, oceans, climate, and animals are suffering. Thankfully, there seems to be a increasing awareness about the state of our environment and more people, such as myself, are seeking ways to make some changes to improve their own personal impact on the planet.
From experience, I’ll be the first to admit that making any kind of change can seem overwhelming at first, especially when it feels like there are a million and one things you should be doing differently to save the environment. So instead, I encourage you to look past all of that and simply focus on making small, everyday changes that will have a huge impact on your own environmental footprint in the long run.
Maybe you’re someone who already implements zero-waste living in your daily routine, or you could be someone who is reading this in hopes to find a way to get started. Regardless of where we stand individually, the most important thing remember is that we all have the ability to leave a lasting and positive impact on the environment, whatever that might look like for you. Every little bit counts!
With that in mind, today I thought I’d share a simple change that I’ve made in my life to be more eco-friendly in an area that I think we can all find common ground - packing lunches! Yes, the thought of it alone sounds daunting (I can almost hear the collective sigh!), but not to worry because I’ve compiled a list of my best tip and tricks to help you re-think the way you’re packing lunches.
ECO-FRIENDLY LUNCH BAG ACCESSORIES
A good place to start is by replacing your plastic lunch bag with a reusable one. My favorite solution that is both budget and eco-friendly is a DIY bento bag! Grabbing some fabric and making your own is such a convenient and creative way to wrap up your lunch, and it can be thrown in the wash when it gets dirty. Any access fabric can be used to make snack bags, too. More on that below! If you can't sew to save your life, a stainless steel bento box is another popular option.
Mason jars are the perfect alternative for plastic Tupperware and the best part is they come in all different sizes! I love using the smaller ones for salad dressings, dips, or snacks and the larger size work well for smoothies, soups or even salads.
REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
Swapping your plastic water bottles for a reusable one is a huge money saver and is much more convenient, too. The best part about stainless steel options (I use my Swell religiously) is that they keep your water cold all day long.
If you haven’t already swapped plastic straws for reusable ones, this is an easy starting point! They’re inexpensive, easy to clean and fit in any lunch bag perfect. They can be used for water, ice-coffee, smoothies etc.
STAINLESS STEEL CONTAINERS
Like mason jars, stainless steel containers are another great alternative to plastic Tupperware and they will help eliminate the consumption of packaged foods. These containers are a good option for more meal-like or hot foods as well.
As I mentioned above, using the access fabric from your DIY bento bag is perfect for making snack bags! Again, you can customize them to whatever shape or size you prefer and they can easily be thrown in the wash. If I still haven’t convinced you to start taking up sewing, there are plenty of reusable bag alternatives on the market. My personal favorites are Stasher bags or Abegoo's reusable beeswax wraps.
Of course, if your lunch requires you to use more than your hands, wooden or stainless steel cutlery are perfect alternatives to produce less waste in your lunch.
HEALTHY LUNCH & SNACK IDEAS
The best part about being more conscious in the way we choose to pack our lunches is that we’re doing good for the health of both the environment and ourselves. I say this because as you get into the habit of eliminating plastic in your lunch, naturally you will be reducing the amount of packaged “junk foods” that you may have been reaching for previously. I find that using eco-friendly lunch bag accessories allows for more opportunities to make healthier food choices that will fuel my body and give me the energy I need throughout the day.
So now that we have an eco-friendly lunch bag that produces zero waste (#winning), let’s talk about some healthy lunch and snack ideas to stuff them with. This is the most exciting part, after all.
• Veggies or apple slices & homemade hummus
• DIY trail mix – keep it nut-free if you have kids!
• Fresh fruit – grapes, apple slices, berries etc.
• Celery sticks with sunflower butter & raisins
• Homemade energy balls
• Mason jar salad - (+chicken, quinoa, egg or tofu for protein)
• Chia pudding pots – mason jars are perfect for this!
• Guacamole & Mary’s crackers
• Homemade popcorn – I love air popped with a drizzle of coconut oil and sea salt!
• Lentil pasta salad
• Lettuce wraps – using whatever protein & veggies you like!
• Green protein smoothie
There you have it! Easier than it seems, right? At the end of the day, all we can do is try our best and I hope that these tips and tricks will put you on the right path to be more eco-concious. Do you have any tips for packing a healthy, eco-friendly lunch?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Happy lunching!
Keep in touch!