Earth Day Tips: Packing a Healthier, Zero Waste Lunch
This is a guest blog by WildMintShop.com
Tuesday, April 22 this year is “Earth Day,” a day when people around the globe get together to bring awareness to environmental issues and promote greater appreciation of the planet. There are thousands of steps, big or small, one can take to help protect our planet, and today we wanted to focus on a topic we know everyone can relate to—food! As busy health professionals, we know it’s probably hard to find time to pack lunch, yet, ordering takeout, eating in the cafeteria, or constantly going out for lunch aren’t necessarily the most cost-effective or healthiest options. That’s why we’re here to help you change up your lunch routine while going green! At Wild Mint, we are dedicated to helping families live healthier, safer, and more earth-friendly lifestyles, so we’ve put together some of our favorite tips to help you pack a healthier, zero waste lunch for work.
There are two main areas you can focus on to help pack a healthier lunch: the food you pack and the containers you use to pack your food. First, trying to pack whole, fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables, lean meats, nuts, legumes, and grains are of course better for your health than eating processed foods and those high in saturated fats. But another thing to remember is that research shows organic foods are higher in nutrients (vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals) and free from many of the toxic pesticides used in regular foods. To help you shop for organic foods on a budget, check out the Environmental Working Group’s Shoppers Guide to see the best foods to try to buy organic.
Now that you’re packing healthier foods, it’s time to consider your food containers. Did you know that chemicals in some items including lunch bags, plastic containers, utensils, plastic baggies, and water bottles can actually leach into your food and drink? These toxic chemicals (including Bisphenol-A or BPA, phthalates and PVC’s, and lead) can have a short or long term effect on people’s health including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, worsening allergy and asthma symptoms, impaired intellect, and some cancers. To help you avoid any potential health consequences from using products made with toxic chemicals, switch to non toxic, reusable lunch-packing gear made from glass, stainless steel, organic cotton, and bamboo.
Packing your lunch in reusable products is also a great way to reduce waste in the environment. According to RecycleWorks.org, a person who uses a disposable lunch creates between 4-8 ounces of garbage everyday, which can add up to as much as 100 pounds per year! That’s a lot of garbage by just one person that is polluting the air and oceans. Additionally, plastics, which are used to make so many disposable lunch gear items, take centuries to decompose and if incinerated in the process, release toxic byproducts into the atmosphere.
Below are 4 ways to help you pack the perfect zero-waste lunch:
1) Pack a Reusable Lunch Bag: Look for a reusable lunch bag free from toxic chemicals like lead, PVCs, phth alates, and BPA. If you’re looking for the most eco friendly option, opt for a bag made completely from 100% organic cotton, which is grown without the use of pesticides and has lower environmental impacts than conventional cotton.
2) Store Healthy Food in Reusable Containers: As discussed, glass, stainless steel, and organic cotton are all toxin-free alternatives to plastic that also promote healthier eating by conscious food preparation. Pack healthy sandwiches, meals, veggie sticks, yogurt, fruit, and more nutritious options in safer glass food storage containers and stainless steel food containers. Replace plastic baggies with reusable sandwich bags and reusable snack bags which will save money in the long run and help reduce waste!
3) Sustainable Utensils & Napkins: Reusable bamboo utensils are an Eco-friendly alternative to plastics, much lighter then packing silverware, and super cute! With napkins, opt for reusable 100% organic cotton instead of paper napkins that add unnecessary waste to landfills.
4) Reusable Beverage Bottles: Plastic water bottles, juice boxes, soda cans, and other disposable drinks can contain unhealthy ingredients, toxic chemicals, and of course contribute to waste. Instead, use reusable glass water bottles or stainless steel water bottles filled with water and other healthy beverages. We love Lifefactory water bottles for glass and Klean Kanteen bottles for stainless steel.
We hope these tips have been helpful and informative in learning about toxin-free, earth friendly lunch packing. For some ideas on healthy lunch and snack options visit our Recipe Section and to learn more about healthy, safer living visit our Learn Section.