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Stories and green tips related to nature, adventure, placemaking, and food systems, written by a beginning farmer/gardener and seasoned sustainability educator who loves to grow, cook, ferment, and eat local and ecologically happy food.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lunchtime alternatives to wasteful things

This week I took on Reduce Footprints's Change the World Wednesday Challenge and avoided plastic wrap and aluminum foil. I didn't directly encounter either this week, but I thought I'd share with you some alternatives to those wasteful items that come along with meal time, especially lunch.

1. I bring a reusable lunch bag to school each day, which both reduces my waste as well as protects my food better (It's also quite cute if I do say so myself!). The one I use most often used to belong to my step-mom, but over time I used it more and more and now I'm the only one who uses it. I also have a metal "I Dream of Jeannie" one, but it isn't large enough to hold my thermos when I take soup and it causes apples to roll around and become dented. If you don't have a reusable lunch bag/box, you really need to get one.2. When I take sandwiches, I bring them in my plastic Wonder Bread container (yes, it's made of plastic which is rather unfortunate, but at least I'm reducing my use of plastic baggies/plastic wrap). Some days my mom or I forget to use it, so I try to leave it in the plastic baggy drawer so we'll see it before it's too late. The container is also great for small pieces of bread, like pita bread, and could really be used for a variety of things. You could put chips, pretzels, cookies, brownies, dry cereal, etc. in it to avoid the plastic bag. Check out this stainless steel sandwich container I just found online; perhaps I'll look into purchasing one.3. Because I do try to avoid putting food in plastic containers, I have little glass Tupperware-like jars for a variety of foods. They're excellent for dips, hummus, thick salad dressing, nuts & seeds, chocolate chips, Corn nuts--the possibilities are endless. I have some 1-cup sized containers, which work for smaller things, but they do make larger sizes that could replace your plastic-leaching Tupperware. They're microwave, freezer and dishwasher safe and are BPA-free. The ones I have are from Anchor Hocking Company (which also sells a ton of other awesome glassware).4. I have switched over to using cloth napkins whenever I can. I try to keep one with me when I'm out, and have tried to become better at putting one in my lunch bag. I use them at home, but remembering to bring them in my purse or backpack when I'm out is more difficult. That's definitely something I need to work on.

5. While this is most likely something most green-minded people already do, don't forget about bringing a reusable water bottle and/or coffee mug with you at lunchtime or whenever you're out. I've stopped drinking individually-bottled drinks on a regular basis and choose to just drink water at lunchtime. There are, of course, occasions when I'll have a canned soda or a bottled tea, but for the most part I stick with water or coffee/tea in my reusable mug.

6. Having variety in your lunch is always important so you don't become bored with the same old thing. Creating variety also reduces the chance that you'll go out for lunch, waste some paper or plastic, and buy something that really isn't very good for you because you're really just craving tasty food. Soup and chili can create that variety--especially as the weather cools down. You'll need, of course, a thermos. I have two or three thermoses in my house that I use quite often. I still use canned soup, but I'm hoping to experiment with making my own soup sometime soon. They make smaller thermoses that are less of a hassle to lug around, but I also have a larger one that fits perfectly in my lunch bag. Choose whichever size works best for you to carry--and for your appetite.
I don't have this particular thermos, but it looks like it would be a durable, nice and compact thermos to have.

7. Don't forget the utensils! At my house, I have a section of my utensil drawer filled with old plastic utensils that I've washed after use. Rather than buy them for use when bringing lunch, save the ones you are forced to use when out for takeout and have forgotten to bring your own. You can also just bring actual silverware from your house and then you won't have to deal with flimsy forks and knifes. Just be careful not to throw them away when you've finished eating--but if you have a reusable lunch bag that shouldn't be too much of an issue.

8. Snacks like Clif Bars and other individually-wrapped foods are great for hikes and times when you need a quick snack. But they do create a lot of waste if you're using them everyday. Trail mix is a great alternative that you can make yourself and add whatever you like. Personally, I like almonds, sunflower seeds, and vegan chocolate chips. Stores that sell bulk seeds and nuts are the perfect place for getting trail mix ingredients. And you can put them in those handy glass containers I was telling you about!

How do you reuse or reduce your lunchtime waste?

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Last month I posted some links to various websites, including one to the WILD Foundation's World Wilderness Congress. Here's some updated information about the event:
Besides live blogging, tweeting and slide shows that will be available on a central splash page, a dedicated channel will be established on Qik. This channel will allow individuals in attendance to stream live coverage on their cell phones. Furthermore, USTREAM will also have a dedicated channel that will feature all of the keynote addresses....More information...is available in this blog post (http://www.wild.org/blog/social-media-coverage-of-wild9/).
Although I won't be attending the event, I'll definitely be following the website to watch videos and read about its progress when it takes place this November 6-13. It definitely sounds like it will produce some great discussions that will be useful to watch and learn from.Thanks for reading!
Don't forget to check tomorrow for the newest Change the World Wednesday at Reduce Footprints's blog.

Green Gal

2 comments:

  1. Your posts are always informative and inspiring. Thanks to you, I've definitely become more aware of the waste I create in my life and how to reduce and reuse resources.

    Thanks for always sharing great tips, and thanks for your commitment to preserving our earth's resources.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Green Bean Gal,
    I am your friend from CPC!
    I love reading your posts. I like the fact that a young girl like you is so aware of the environment!
    I blog about sustainable building products for homes and offices.
    Do check it out:
    http://linoleumfloordesigns.wordpress.com/

    ReplyDelete

I love reading comments and am always up for a discussion! Thank you!

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