Lunch Boxes for Sustainability

A tradition I’ve had for six years now (the whole time I’ve been married!) is to pack my husband’s lunch every morning.  He could pack it himself (and he has a few times, like right after children were born), but there is just something special about having someone prepare a meal for you.  Also, packing a lunch is a much better alternative to the waste that goes into fast food or cafeteria lunches — if it is done right.  Here are some things to consider for a minimal-impact lunch:


1) Get a long-lasting lunch box that suits your purpose.

My husband uses an small, insulated square soda cooler we bought at Target (usually lasts a few years), because he sometimes brings food that will need to be reheated, and because it’s very “no frills.”  You (or your spouse or children) may prefer something a little hipper, like a vintage Dukes of Hazzard metal lunch box or something pretty from Etsy.  If you’re crafty (which I’m not), you can even try making one yourself.  As long as it’s big enough to fit all your containers and easy to carry, you’re good to go.


2) Will you store your water bottles inside or outside the box?


This is an important consideration for people like me who hate being bogged down with lots of “little things.”  I need a place for EVERYTHING.  So when I pack lunches for a family outing, for instance, I usually just throw the food and drinks in a large canvas bag so it’s all in one place.  (Not a big deal for us, because we like drinking things at room temperature.)  My husband’s lunch box also has the same consideration: it is big enough to fit his food, water bottles, and any other drinks.  He brings two reusable hard plastic water bottles with him; buying reusable stainless steel or BPA-free plastic bottles for everyday use is a great alternative to the bottled-water problem.


3) Food containers!


I have to admit, I cringe everytime I see little kids (anybody, really) with a bunch of individually-packaged snacks.  I’m not totally innocent here, either, but how difficult is it to just buy a larger bag of something and put it in a reusable container?  (It’s more economical, too.)  If you hate plastic as much as I do, cloth is a good alternative to “baggies.”  Again, make your own or check out Etsy.  I still use plastic containers, but I have it on my list to try my hand at making a cloth snack holder.  (That’s right, the uncrafty one here is going to sew something.)


2) Special Notes

Did your mom ever put a heartfelt note in your lunch box?  What better way to remind your loved one that he/she is special.  I haven’t done this in some time, but I used to occasionally put notes in my husband’s lunch, hoping he would see my words of encouragement in the middle of his busy day.  This is a resolution for myself: I need to revive this habit, because he’s been VERY busy lately!


Do you pack a lunch for someone else?  If so, how do you sustainably package it?  More importantly, how do show your care for that person in this act?


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