Whether you’re headed back to school or bidding adieu to remote work life, being prepared to pack lunches on the go is a high-impact way to limit your waste output and plastic use. We’re outlining the elements of a low-waste lunch box so you can keep them front-of-mind and avoid reaching for those plastic throw-away utensils in a pinch!
Lunch Box/Lunch Bag
If you’re looking for a lunch bag to help keep your food cool or warm, you don’t need to resort to lunch bags with synthetic insulation - rely on the natural magic of wool instead! Here are two styles of lunch bags that use wool for insulation, and have machine washable components to make care as easy as can be.
This trim lunch bag (available in green and orange trim) is lined with wool and has a removable cotton liner. When the inside gets dirty, just remove the liner and throw it in the wash.
If you need something low-maintenance, durable, and fun for the kiddos, look no further than these GOTS-certified organic cotton lunch bags. The entire bag is machine-washable.
Use a bag that you already have at home. Small reusable takeout bags and durable plastic grocery bags work perfectly.
Reusable silicone sandwich bags (available in many colors!) are the easy, leveled-up alternative to disposable zip baggies. They are machine washable, microwavable, freezable, you-name-it.
Beeswax wraps are another great solution for packing up sandwiches and other hand-held foods (like wraps). They work similar to cling wrap and are easy to pack away when you're done.
If you have reusable cloth napkins at home, just wrap your sandwich in a napkin. Or if you already have a supply of disposable zip baggies, wash them a few times and reuse for as long as you can before investing in an alternative.
This 3-in-1 food container packs away as a single box, but can separate three different foods to keep things from getting smushed or soggy.
Each piece of this Seal Cup Trio nests together to be easily packed away when you're through with lunch. The silicone lids make these containers leak-proof, so they are perfect for any foods containing liquid. Add the Seal Cup Mini and Seal Cup XL for a 5-piece nested set.
This Insulated Canister is a perfect option for foods that need to stay hot (like soup) or cold (like dairy products). It's leak proof and entirely plastic-free.
If you don't have reusable food containers at home, there are plenty of ways to get creative. Wash and reuse the clamshell from last night's takeout. Or wash and reuse your next empty tub of sour cream or nut butter jar.
The Eat/Drink Toolkit is a comprehensive utensil set, complete with chopsticks, a straw, and even a little spork in case your buddy forgot their utensils, too.
This utensil set (with either a cork or striped cotton case) contains just the basics. It's easy to pack away, and will suit your needs for most meals.
For those who don't love the feel of bamboo utensils, this stainless steel set is a perfect alternative. Fun fact: it's made from upcycled razor blades!
Pack a spoon and fork from your silverware drawer and pop them in the dishwasher at the end of the day. Or if you received a set of disposable plastic utensils with your last takeout order, wash and reuse them a few times before you throw them away.
Invest in a set of of reusable cloth napkins for home and on-the-go. At the end of the day, just throw them in the hamper. Fun fact: these cloth napkins are made from upcycled denim!
Reusable UnPaper Towels easily pack away and come in fun color options that are great for kids. They come in packs of 6, so they'll keep you covered for the full work week or school week.
Making your own reusable napkins is a super easy DIY project! If you have a flannel shirt, blanket, or towel that is worse for the wear, cut it into squares and hem with a sewing machine.
Stainless steel water bottles are great durable alternatives to plastic-water bottles. It can be difficult to find a 100% plastic-free water bottle. You'll often find bottles that have plastic lids and straws. These water bottles have 100% silicone lids and straws, so you don't have to worry about adverse effects of plastic exposure. Plus, the size fits great in a lunch bag!
Most people have a reusable water bottle at this point. If you have one, and aren't concerned about it's materials, keep using it for as long as you can. If you don't have one, clean out a spaghetti sauce jar and bring it with you on the go.
If you don't already have a buy-nothing aresenal, we think you'll agree that a lot of these lunch box essentials are worth the investment. Aside from stocking up your lunch box, you can keep these pieces in your backpack, purse, or car to avoid single-use food accessories when you're out and about.
View our full Lunch Box Collection here.