10 Ways to Make Bringing Your Own Lunch Waste-Free

Packing your own lunch not only saves money, but it can also be better for the planet than getting food in disposable go-to containers. These products can help you avoid wasting plastic and paper unnecessarily.

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February 21, 2019
By: Kassondra Cloos

Waxed Canvas Lunchbag

The most sustainable lunch bag is one you already have. Consider using a small tote bag, or even a sturdy gift bag from the holidays or your birthday, to bring your lunch to work if you don't already have a lunchbox. But if you want a lunch-specific option, consider these waxed cotton canvas bags, which are waterproof without using any plastic or metal.

Buy It: Etsy, $20

Reusable Napkins or Towels

Instead of packing a paper towel or napkin, go reusable. Unpaper Towels are made from cloth, and they naturally cling to one another so you can stick them to each other and roll them up onto a paper towel roll. Choose your own prints from Marleys Monsters or buy a bundle of 12 random ones.

Buy It: Etsy, $30 to $33 (Pack of 12)

Reusable Waxed Food Wrappers

Instead of using plastic wrap or tin foil, opt for a reusable food wrapper like Bee's Wrap. These sheets of waxed canvas will keep your food contained and protected without creating waste. Plus, they're available in a bunch of cute colors and patterns.

Buy It: Amazon, $21

Reusable Water Bottle

Skip the vending machine, which is full of single-use plastic, and BYOBeverages instead. Again, the most sustainable thing is the thing you already have. But if you're lacking a solid reusable bottle, consider MiiR's wide mouth styles, which are great for both hot and cold drinks. As a bonus for your conscience, MiiR is a certified B-corp, meaning it's built into the company's DNA that upholding social and environmental standards is as important as staying profitable. MiiR gives three percent of its revenue to sustainable empowerment projects around the globe.

Buy It: MiiR, $27.95

Stacking Lunch Containers

Streamline your whole lunch packing process by bringing an all-in-one set of stacking containers, eliminating the need for both a bag and containers to pack food in. ECO Lunchbox's stainless steel containers are dishwasher-safe and clip together for an easily portable package.

Buy It: Anthropologie, $30

Silicone Food Baggies

Ditch single-use plastic baggies for something reusable (and more versatile) instead. Stasher's silicone food bags seal as easily as a zip-top bag, and they're dishwasher- and microwave-safe. You can also use them as freezer storage bags and in boiling water.

Buy It: Amazon, $12 and up

Bamboo Cutlery Set With Carrying Case

Of course, you already have forks and spoons at your house, but if you don't have a set that's easy to stash in your bag (or keep at the office) for everyday use, snag a lightweight set like this that packs into its own carrying case to keep your bag clean and crumb-free.

Buy It: Anthropologie, $13

Monbento Lunchbox

This super-cute bento-style lunch container checks all the, well, boxes. The Monbento is BPA-free, waterproof, microwave-, dishwasher- and freezer-safe, and it's well-designed. The box's layers allow you to separate your food to avoid mixing sauces or ending up with soggy bread, yet it's still in a small, portable package.

Buy It: Amazon, $36

Reusable Straws

If your drink feels naked without a straw, this durable yet flexible reusable straw belongs in your lunchbag. The stainless steel base is topped with food-grade silicone, and they can be used with both hot and cold beverages. An included straw brush helps you keep it clean between uses.

Buy It: REI, $10 (Set of 4)

Mesh Cotton Produce Bags

Bring your own produce bags to the grocery store when you shop for lunch, instead of coming home with useless plastic. These mesh bags, made from organic cotton, are a more sustainable alternative.

Buy It: Anthropologie, $20 (4 Bags)