By blog team member Kiran. To learn more about Kiran, check out our team page.
Do you take your lunch to work? Pack lunches for your kids? If so, you’re off to a good start and should pat yourself on the back! That is obviously a great way to keep the food “real,” but let’s take things a step further and look at what you’re packing all that wholesome real food in. We’re going to show you why a waste-free lunch with reusable containers makes sense instead of disposable bags or other single-use lunch items out there.
Sponsor Shoutout: MY ECO Bags
Being waste-free can go far beyond just packed lunches. In fact, most people probably already have some reusable grocery bags in their life, but I bet they aren’t quite as nifty as our all-time favorites – MY ECO Bags! Lisa made a quick video to show you exactly why we like them so much and how easy they are to use.
Why Choose Reusables
Prepackaged products and disposable bags are convenient – we get it. But using paper and plastic adds up both cost-wise, and garbage-wise. In fact, I’ve compiled some data which illustrates these facts further.
Here are some reasons to choose reusable:
- Glass tastes good. Have you tried it? Drinking water out of a glass bottle is so much better than plastic. Plus, San Francisco recently banned plastic water bottles. What city will be next? Beat them to it by going for glass already.
- Make room for a better metal. The EPA reports that in 2013, the US discarded about 2.8 million tons of aluminum. If you’ve been favoring foil, you may want to make the switch to a long-lasting stainless steel lunch box instead.
- Cut it cleaner. It’s no secret that plastic cutlery can negatively affect the environment by impacting natural resources and landfills. Plus, we have to admit, they aren’t always the easiest to use.
- Don’t skip the sandwich. Just package it differently. Every day, over 20,000,000 sandwich bags from school lunches are thrown away. Seriously!
- Paper napkins are a no-no. Every year, enough paper (including paper bags, napkins, and other disposable lunch gear) is thrown away to make a 12-foot high wall stretching from New York to California. Cloth napkins are cute, cost-effective, and can be used for years!
Reusable Lunch Containers Save You Money
To further illustrate the reasons why we prefer a waste-free lunch, I did a cost comparison of two different lunches. Let me preface by saying we understand there is an initial up-front cost for some of the products needed to pack a waste-free lunch. Let me also say I’ve had some of our reusable containers for 4 – 5 years now. So yes, you can amortize the costs of the products over a good amount of time.
Also, let’s not forget that we need to be conscious of taking care of our environment. It’s another large factor that needs to be considered. Can we even put a value on that cost?
|The homemade lunch**||vs.||The packaged lunch|
|Apple||$0.79||Pre-cut apple slices + Ziploc baggie||$0.83|
|Yogurt (8 oz in reusable container)||$0.99||Yogurt (in disposable container)||$1.19|
|Carrots (in reusable container)||$0.40||Carrots + Ziploc baggie||$0.44|
|Bar (homemade)*||$0.36||Packaged bar||$1.19|
|Nut butter sandwich||$1.56||Sandwich + Ziploc baggie||$1.60|
|Napkin (reusable)||$0.00||Paper disposable napkin||$0.01|
|Lunch bag (reusable)||$0.00||Brown paper bag||$0.04|
*Homemade bar recipe
**After the upfront cost of reusable containers. We used the following products to pack this lunch: Funkins reusable napkins, lunchbox from Land’s End, and box and container from UKonserve.
The Bottom Line
I know you may be thinking – so what? $1.76 difference? What’s the big deal? Well, let’s add that up. 180 school days times $1.76 is $317. Now I don’t know about you, but I can think of PLENTY of things to do with $317! I’d love to hear your comments below.