Green Tip – Pack a Zero Waste Lunch

GREEN TIP: Pack a zero waste lunch. You’ll save money and help the 

environment. The best way to reduce garbage is not to create it in the first place.

We’ve talked before about using reusable products, Green Tip – Think Reusable NOT Disposable, let’s take it a step further and make our packed lunches both nutritious and environmentally friendly.

A zero waste lunch means that you have no packaging to throw away when you’re done – nothing other than apple cores, banana and orange peels, peach or cherry pits. The best way to reduce garbage is to not create it.

Source: Environmental Forum of Marin

Tips for a zero waste lunch:

  • Use a REUSABLE carrier (cloth bag, lunchbox). DON’T use  throw-away bags.
  • Use REUSABLE containers (preferably ceramic or glass). DON’T use plastic wrap, foil or styrofoam.
  • Use a stainless steel bottle for drinks. DON’T use single-use cartons or cans.
  • Use a CLOTH NAPKIN to wash and re-use. DON’T use paper napkins.
  • Use SILVERWARE to wash and re-use. DON’T use plastic forks and spoons.
  • Only pack the amount of food you’ll eat.

Source: Global Stewards

Lunch Waste Facts

  • FOOD WASTE: A 2004 University of Arizona study reported that Americans throw away almost 50 percent of all the food we produce for domestic sale and consumption. In round numbers that’s $43 billion annually on wasted food.
  • FOOD WASTE: Researchers at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) concluded in a 2009 study that each year a quarter of U.S. water consumption and over 300 million barrels of oil (four percent of U.S. oil consumption) go into producing and distributing food that ultimately ends up in landfills.
  • ALUMINUM FOIL: More than 20 million Hershey’s kisses are wrapped with 133 square miles of foil every day.
  • ALUMINUM AND TIN CANS: In the time it takes you to read this sentence, more than 50,000 12-oz. aluminum cans were made.
  • FOOD WASTE: Food debris in a landfill decomposes only 25% in the first 15 years (try composting!).
  • JUICE BOXES: Most inorganic trash retains its weight, volume, and form for at least four decades.
  • PAPER BAGS AND NAPKINS: It is estimated that 17 trees are cut down for every ton of non-recycled paper.
  • PLASTIC BOTTLES, FORKS, WRAP: U.S. citizens discard 2-1/2 million plastic bottles EVERY HOUR.
  • STYROFOAM: U.S. citizens throw away 25 billion styrofoam cups EVERY YEAR.

Source: Scientific America and Global Stewards

We must shift our way of thinking, from what is the most “convenient” way to do something to how can we do something more sustainably. If we don’t, we are leaving a mess for our children and their children to clean up. Let’s leave our world better than we found it!

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

My Zero Waste
My Zero Waste is dedicated to making the world a cleaner place. The overall purpose of the site is to help households reduce the amount of rubbish sent to the landfill. We show on a daily basis HOW we are reducing our own landfill waste by highlighting the pitfalls and sharing their mistakes and successes.

Read wonderful articles like How To Reduce Food Waste and find out about the third annual National Zero Waste Week, September 6th – 12th 2010.

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at

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