Pack a Zero Waste Lunch - Day 17 of the Zero Waste Challenge - Going Zero Waste (2024)

Pack a Zero Waste Lunch – Day 17 of the Zero Waste Challenge

31 Day Zero Waste Challenge

January 17, 2019 | Kathryn Kellogg

Last Updated on January 23, 2024

Lunch can arguably be one of the most wasteful meals. There’s lots of single-use packaging and lots of easy grab-and-go options wrapped in plastic.

Today I’m challenging you to ditch the fast-food to-go salads, the saran wrapped wraps, and plastic soup containers.

Today, I challenge you to pack your own lunch from home in reusable containers.

Pack a Zero Waste Lunch - Day 17 of the Zero Waste Challenge - Going Zero Waste (1)

It’s day seventeen of the zero waste challenge! The beginning of the challenge is focused on simple swaps like bringing your own water bottle and bags to the grocery store.

Now, we’re in the second phase of the challenge. These changes are lifestyle changes like learning to make your own snacks, decluttering your life the zero waste way, and conserving natural resources.

Today we’re talking about packing your lunch.

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Table of Contents

the problem:

Lunch time can be super wasteful. Typically, we eat this meal away from home while at work or school.

This can mean lots of disposable items from individually packed drinks and snacks to plastic baggies and brown paper bags.

It’s also the time of day, when we’re most likely to head out and get takeout. Most of us eat our lunches at our desks.

We don’t typically have time to go to a restaurant and sit down to eat so we’ll call ahead, pick up our lunch in disposable packaging, and plop right back down at our desks and get back to work!

There’s a few simple ways to avoid making a wasteful lunch part of your daily routine.

the solution:

By packing my lunch, I find it is a super easy way for me to combat any unnecessary waste. I often see co-workers go out to grab sandwiches in those Styrofoam trays and/or wrapped in plastic wrap.

For me, it’s a lot easier to make my own sandwich. It’s also way cheaper and typically a healthier option.

If you don’t like the idea of eating the same thing day in day out, I’m totally with you. You certainly don’t have to stick to one generic meal to stay waste free.

I like to stick to two salads, two sandwiches and one leftover throughout the week, as a general rule. For more information, here’s how I pack my own zero waste lunch.

A few challenges back we talked about meal prep (day 15 to be exact). That skill can certainly help you pack your own zero waste lunches in no time.

Taking the time to prepare your lunch will make you a lot less likely to purchase a to-go soup or salad.

You can make your lunch the night before, or prep your lunch for the whole week on a Sunday night. It’s totally up to you.

If you’re in a hurry, you can also whip up a meal a few minutes before leaving for work.

On those days, I suggest making something easy like a sandwich or packing leftovers.

For some meal inspiration, here’s a few lunch ideas that’ll get you through work:

  • Avocado, hummus, tomato and sprout sandwich.

  • Homemade veggie noodle soup.

  • Lettuce, clementine, strawberry, almond salad.

  • Butternut squash soup.

  • Collard green wraps.

  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

  • Kale, butternut, pumpkin seed and cranberry salad.

  • Potato leek soup.

You can get a lot of the ingredients for these meals at your local farmers market, plastic free. If a particular fruit or vegetable needed for the meal isn’t in season, replace it with one that is.

It’s always best to make meals using real, whole foods whenever possible. Overly processed foods tend to be the ones that come in the most packaging, after all, so be sure to buy your meal ingredients wisely.

I like to pair my lunches with little sides as well. Some good, waste free sides are apples, carrots, or dried fruits bought in bulk. Check out this blog post for more information on how to grocery shop without creating any trash.

Along with making meals from whole foods, consider what you will store your meals in. I’ve listed some of my favs below and they are affiliate links. For more information see my disclosure policy.

You can carry everything in a big lunch sack or bag with you to work, for starters. As far as storing the actual food goes, there are so many options.

Here are some zero waste lunch essentials:

Pack a Zero Waste Lunch - Day 17 of the Zero Waste Challenge - Going Zero Waste (2)

On top of these items, be sure to take with you some reusable cutlery and a reusable water bottle.

You can take your salad dressing with you, or dips for wraps/sides, in a small little glass jar, or a metal dip cup with a silicone lid. You’d be amazed at how much waste you’ll cut back on.

If you prefer to eat out of real plates and bowls, consider bringing some dishes to work with you.

You can store plates and flatware at work. This way, when you’re ready to eat, you can just place your meal onto an actual dish or bowl.

If you love getting daily takeout then be sure to check out this blog post! It’s super easy to get takeout zero waste it just takes a touch of planning ahead.

take the challenge!

Over the next 14 days, your challenge is to pack your lunch.

Instead of buying lunch to go, or storing it in a disposable zip lock bag, make your own and put it in a reusable container.

You can buy whole foods at the farmers market to transform into delicious meals like salads and sandwiches. Store them in reusable glassware, mason jars, metal tiffins or cloth napkins and bring it to work.

Will you be taking the challenge?

want more?

Just starting out? Have 1,000 burning questions!? Get access to my private Facebook group, where I’ll be hosting weekly lives throughout the challenge and I answer all of your most pressing questions.

PLUS! I’ll be sending out a brand new e-book at the end of the challenge called the Game On Handbook.

Which is all about individual ways to fight climate change. You don’t want to miss it.

miss a day?

  • Day 1: Buy Less
  • Day 2: Say No to Straws
  • Day 3: Bring Your Own Reusable Water Bottle
  • Day 4: Zero Waste Coffee
  • Day 5: How to Actually Remember to Bring Your Bags to the Grocery Store
  • Day 6: Use Real Stuff
  • Day 7: Zero Waste Snacks
  • Day 8: Declutter Your Life the Zero Waste Way
  • Day 9: The Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste Cleaning
  • Day 10: How to Compost
  • Day 11: Conserve Natural Resources
  • Day 12: Pick Up Litter
  • Day 13: Zero Waste Grocery Shopping
  • Day 14: Fight Food Waste
  • Day 15: Meal Prep
  • Day 16: Repair Something
  • Day 17: Pack a Zero Waste Lunch
  • Day 18: Use Cloth Napkins
  • Day 19: Bring Home Leftovers
  • Day 20: Zero Waste Dishwashing
  • Day 21: Recycle the RIGHT Way!
  • Day 22: Zero Waste Toilet Paper
  • Day 23: Reduce Waste in Your Beauty Routine
  • Day 24: Vote with Your Dollars
  • Day 25: Be Prepared
  • Day 26: Stop Junk Mail
  • Day 27: Shop Secondhand
  • Day 28: Shop Local
  • Day 29: Start a Local Zero Waste Group
  • Day 30: Get Involved in Local Government
  • Day 31: Do a Trash Audit

Related Posts

Pack a Zero Waste Lunch - Day 17 of the Zero Waste Challenge - Going Zero Waste (2024)


Pack a Zero Waste Lunch - Day 17 of the Zero Waste Challenge - Going Zero Waste? ›

To pack a waste-free lunch, you must include reusable food and beverage containers, durable flatware and cloth napkins and stow it all in a reusable lunch box like PackIt's freezable lunch bag.

How to pack a zero waste lunch? ›

To pack a waste-free lunch, you must include reusable food and beverage containers, durable flatware and cloth napkins and stow it all in a reusable lunch box like PackIt's freezable lunch bag.

What can you put in a waste free lunch box? ›

Homemade snacks: Even small amounts of packaging on snacks like muesli bars and a box of sultanas have an impact. Make these snacks at home or buy them in bulk so the kids can still enjoy them without waste. These nut-free muesli bars are a great option, or these fruit and nut popcorn balls.

What are the 5 steps of zero waste lifestyle? ›

The 5 R's: “Refuse what you do not need; reduce what you do need; reuse what you consume; recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce and reuse; or transform the rest.” – Bea Johnson.

What is zero-waste lunch? ›

What does a waste free packed lunch mean? Simple – it means not creating extra waste from bringing your food to and from wherever you are going. This equals out to no plastic bags, plastic wraps, tin foil, parchment paper, napkins, plastic straws, plastic utensils, single use bags and containers.

What is a zero-waste menu? ›

A zero-waste menu is a menu that aims to minimize or eliminate food waste in the kitchen and on the plate. This means using every part of the ingredients, from root to stem, nose to tail, and peel to core.

What is a waste free lunch? ›

A waste-free lunch means that you have no trash to throw away when you're done (just compostables such as apple cores, banana and orange peels). The best way to reduce trash is to not create it.

What can I use instead of an ice pack for lunch box? ›

Frozen Water Bottles or Juice Boxes

Instead of packing their lunch bags with ice packs, some people use a frozen water bottle or juice box.

What foods are safe in a lunch box? ›

Foods like meat, fish, poultry, tofu and eggs; cooked pasta, noodles and rice; and dairy items such as milk, yoghurt, custard and cheese need to be kept cold. Hot food needs to stay above 60°C to be safe. If preparing lunches the night before, store in the fridge or freezer, but not inside an insulated bag.

What are the 5 rules of zero waste? ›

We have created an easy to follow guideline on the 5 R's of Zero Waste Living: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot. Using this educational information can help make a difference by incorporating small changes into your daily lives in the office and at home. Together we can promote a more sustainable future!

How to start going zero waste? ›

Here are some valuable tips to help you kickstart your zero waste journey:
  1. Evaluate Your Waste Habits: ...
  2. Minimize Consumption: ...
  3. Embrace Reuse and Repurposing: ...
  4. Practice Proper Recycling: ...
  5. Embrace Composting: ...
  6. Implement Zero Waste in the Kitchen: ...
  7. Choose Sustainable Products: ...
  8. Support Local Businesses:
Nov 22, 2023

What are the 5 R's of zero waste? ›

The 5 R's: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle.

What are zero-waste foods? ›

More is possible – little progress with zero waste

The term refers to a kind of “food recycling” or “food upcycling”, where you use leftovers such as peelings, leaves or seeds instead of throwing them away.

What are zero-waste recipes? ›

Zero-waste cooking means you have no waste left behind while cooking a meal. This includes parts of the ingredients you're using and packaging from the ingredients. When practicing zero-waste cooking, you will use every single part of vegetables, fruits, meat, and whatever else may be required for your dish.

How to cut junk food out of your life? ›

Six Ways to Eliminate Junk Food in Your Diet
  1. Eat Regular Meals so You Do Not Get Too hungry. ...
  2. Drink Water First and Eliminate Sugar Sweetened Beverages. ...
  3. Consume Snacks that are Nutritious and Low in Calories. ...
  4. Understand Your Stressors. ...
  5. Get Plenty of Sleep. ...
  6. Keep a Smile on Your Face and Realize the Downside of Marketing.

How to pack lunches without plastic? ›

How To Pack A Zero Waste Lunch
  1. One airtight stainless steel lunch container. It is great. ...
  2. A Set of reusable bamboo utensils in a cute carrying case. ...
  3. One reusable napkin. ...
  4. A couple Organic cotton bags for snacks or sandwiches. ...
  5. Mason jar, glass, or water bottle.

How to make zero-waste packaging? ›

  1. #1 – Evaluate Sustainable and Zero Waste Options. ...
  2. #2 – Take Inventory of Packaging Materials. ...
  3. #3 – Set Goals for Reducing Waste in Your Business. ...
  4. #4 – Implement Recyclable, Biodegradable, or Compostable Options. ...
  5. #5 – Focus on Increasing Brand Loyalty. ...
  6. #6 – Ensure the Entire Supply Chain is Eco-Friendly.
Mar 29, 2023

How to pack a balanced lunch box? ›

There are 5 things that should go into the lunchbox every day – a crunchy colourful vegetable, a piece of fruit, go seasonal. Something from the carbohydrate or breads and cereals group – bread, a wrap, rice, pasta. Something from the dairy group such as milk, cheese or a yoghurt. And finally a growing or protein food.


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