Reduce Your Packaging Footprint

By Sandro Young / Photography By Stefanie Keeler | September 25, 2016
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salad in reusable container
Reusable containers are a great way to reduce waste when packing lunch.

Looking for ways to pack lunch without adding single-use plastics to the landfill? A recent study highlighted the amount of trash created by weekly use of disposable items at lunchtime alone, and found an average family of 3 generates 18 pieces of trash per day, or 3240 pieces annually by using items such as plastic baggies and utensils, paper napkins and single use beverages. A typical American child generates 67 pounds of discarded lunchbox packaging waste per school year, which is more than 18,000 pounds annually for an average elementary school and over 1 billion pounds nationally.

Here are some easy tips for reducing your packaging footprint:
1. Shop locally at farmers’ markets and buy fresh unpackaged produce.
2. Bring reusable bags. Always!
3. Buy bulk and cut back on pre-packaged snacks and goods.
4. Opt for reusable beverage bottles, such as stainless steel canteens or Mason jars.
5. Switch to reusable utensils. Set aside a set of utensils just for lunch away from home.
6. Look for condiments, jams and jellies in reusable glass containers or make your own mayonnaise, ketchup and dressing.
7. Say no to baggies. Use Mason jars and stainless food containers instead.
8. Pack lunch in a reusable container. Metal lunch boxes are making a comeback, and Bento boxes have separate, stackable compartments for all your lunch goodies.
9. When home, recycle any used packaging and compost any leftover food.
10. Let your produce loose! No need to bag your produce twice. Put it in your cart, then bag it once as you pay and leave the store.
11. Eat lunch from a food truck daily? Bring your own dish or plate.
12. Request minimal packaging when ordering food to go.

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