One of the best ways to start eating healthier is to bring a lunch from home to work instead of getting take-out. And if you’re smart about it, it’s one of the best ways to lead a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle too! Here are six of the best tips for packing healthier, more sustainable lunches every day.
When you buy locally grown food, you’re doing more than helping support your own community. You’re also reducing your food’s carbon footprint by cutting down on the distance it’s shipped. So find a nearby farmers market or check for locally grown produce at your neighborhood grocery store to stock up on lunch ingredients!
Cut Down on Dairy & Meat
Producing meat as well as cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products have a higher environmental impact than plant-based food production. So try going vegan for at least one lunch per week – maybe for Meatless Monday?
Along that same vein, when you do opt for meats and cheeses, be choosy about which ones you eat. Processed meat tends to be high in sodium and harmful nitrates. If you need help choosing, the Environmental Working Group has Food Scores to help you pick the healthiest, least environmentally damaging options.
Ditch Individually Wrapped Foods
This one may seem a little obvious, but it’s always worth the reminder! Individually packaged food containers contribute heavily to landfills as well as ocean and air pollution. And for a double whammy: the processed food that comes in them is often less healthy as well.
To piggyback off my last point: replace the one-use items with reusable ones! Instead of plastic baggies, try waxed fabric sandwich bags, bento boxes, tiffins, glass jars, or any other reusable containers for your lunches. And if you’re still bringing in plastic water bottles, here’s your sign that it’s time to invest in a refillable water bottle.
You’re bringing that lunch container back home with you anyway, so why not bring home some compost with it? Fruit and veggie scraps like apple cores, cherry pits, and rinds and peels can easily be composted at home. It’s an easy way to decrease your food waste while making your own fertilizer for your yard or garden!
To bring it all full-circle, buying produce that’s in season in your area tends to go hand-in-hand with buying local. So by staying seasonal, you’re lowering that carbon footprint even more. Plus, changing what you eat for lunch with the seasons can help keep you from getting bored with what you pack.
What are some other ways you can make your lunches more sustainable? Tell us all about it in the comments below!
Kat Wiseman is a content writer for Span Enterprises in Rock Hill, SC. She has a B.A. in English-Creative Writing from Winthrop University and her RYT 200 from Yoga Alliance. When she's not writing or doing yoga, she enjoys Netflix marathons, mystery novels, and being at the beach.