Take a second to think about how much plastic attends your average takeout lunch. Even grabbing an all-organic meal from the Whole Foods hot bar means a load of landfill fodder — cardboard containers, plastic clamshells, glass bottles, disposable cutlery, etc. Feeling guilty yet? You should.
Trading it all in for sustainable, non-disposable lunchware is an easy way to not only lighten your carbon footprint but class things up a little. There’s just something a little more mature about consuming your midday meal from real dishes and flatware. Plus, it’s a handy reminder to do the things that contribute to your overall well-being, e.g., making and bringing your own meals from home, or drinking your recommended daily 64 ounces of water. Basically, sustainable lunchware is a shortcut to adulting. Who knew?
Best of all, this nondisposable lunchware works just as well for takeaway meals. Yes, you may garner some curious looks when you march into your local deli and load up your sustainable meal container from the hot bar. But these days, that curiosity is more likely to translate as admiring interest. After all, everybody loves a guy who makes a visible effort to do his part.
Reusable and Sustainable Lunch Gear
Lifewit 7L Double Decker Lunch Bag
A reusable lunch bag is a must for environmentally friendly lunching. The double insulated compartment lets you store foods of different temperatures on different levels. You can also fit up to six 12-oz cans of…soda…in the top compartment if you’re Friday pre-gaming in the office parking lot.
To-Go Ware Repeat Utensil Set
We present for your consideration a classic of the genre. Made by the same folks who brought you the Chico bag, Repeat’s flatware is made of strong but lightweight bamboo that is both heat- and stain-resistant, so it doesn’t impart or absorb flavors. The kit thoughtfully includes a set of chopsticks and comes in a tough pouch made of recycled plastic outfitted with a carabiner, so it’s extra easy to keep track of. The utensils are bigger and sturdier than your average takeout plastic ware; while the fork tines and knife blade aren’t exactly sharp, they are tough enough to stand up to assertive use—you can easily spear and slice by exerting a little extra force.
Stasher Reusable Silicone Bags
Can we all be honest for once about plastic baggies? They’re about as disappointing as they are ubiquitous. We all use them, and yet we all consistently find our sandwiches smashed or our trail mix leaking through a hole. About the most they protect your food from is dust. Enter the Stasher bag, a food-grade silicone sleeve that is infinitely reusable, completely non-toxic, dishwasher friendly, and…are you ready for this? You’re not, but here goes anyway: you can reheat your food inside it. Microwave your leftover pasta, reheat last night’s enchiladas in the oven, even sous-vide a piece of salmon–the Stasher bag can take it all. We also happen to love that, as a Certified B Corporation, Stasher gives 1 percent of profits back to organizations that work to keep plastic out of the oceans (and out of our lives).
Klean Kanteen 5-Piece Straw Set
Environmental activists have been campaigning against plastic straws for years—we’ve had ample time to research the alternatives. And yet, when asked to make a selection, we were hard pressed to find an option we could really get behind. Bamboo seems like a natural choice, but it disintegrates quickly, requires hand-washing, and threatens to lodge splinters in your lips. Stainless steel is durable and dishwasher-safe, but not ideal if your beverage of choice happens to be warm. Glass is upscale, but it just feels like asking for a problem, especially if you’re carrying it to and from work. We found our perfect match with these picks from Kleen Kanteen, which offer the durability of stainless steel with a removable silicone sleeve that protects your lips from getting burned. They’re all dishwasher-safe and come with a handy straw brush to ensure that your morning smoothie doesn’t leave gunk that will mar the flavor of your after-work cocktail.
Black+Blum Eau Good
Another oversaturated market, another embarrassment of options. From classic stainless steel to the ultra-insulated mugs to hefty hydration tanks made to withstand thirty-foot drops off a cliff, there are more water bottles on heaven and earth than we have thought of in our dreams. And then we stumbled across this water bottle from Black + Blum, and the decision became easy. We’ll admit to being instantly smitten with its hourglass shape and natural cork stopper, but what really sealed the deal for us was the charcoal filter stick included in the bottle. This feature is a godsend for anyone who has suffered from the taste of metallic tap water, or (shudder) a refrigerator water dispenser that hasn’t been cleaned or changed out in years. Just drop the charcoal stick into your bottle, fill with water, wait an hour, and you’ve got freshly filtered H2O at your disposal. The Black + Blum bottle comes in thick glass, but also offers a BPA-free plastic option for the butterfingered among us.
Vaya Tyffyn Lunch Box
From the outset, we were attracted to the tiffin, a stackable meal transportation kit traditionally used in India. Each stainless steel layer latches above the next, creating radiant heat that helps keep the food warm and makes the whole kit easy to carry. The one problem we encountered was insulation…or rather, the lack thereof. Hot food only stayed hot for so long, and if it was too hot, it burned our fingers. (First world problems, we know.) So imagine our delight when we found the Vaya Tyffyn, a leak-proof tiffin-style container made of copper-coated stainless steel for optimal heat maintenance. Better still, the Tyffyn’s VacuTherm insulated sleeve maintains food temperature for up to 6 hours, and the slim profile makes it easy to slip into a backpack. BPA-free, leak-resistant, and fitted with pressurized latches, the Tyffyn is the ideal grown-up lunchbox.
Frank Green Stainless Steel Reusable Cup
The first non-disposable item to be popularly adopted by the masses, the thermal mug is an oversaturated market, with every conceivable size, design, material, and feature you can imagine. So imagine our surprise when along comes a cute little Australian number to make us do a double-take. With its cylindrical shape, stainless steel interior and colorful array of finishes, the Frank Green mug offers minimalist style and high functionality. We especially appreciate the removable basket on top that looks after tea drinkers with equal care as coffee drinkers. Best of all is the spout lock; just press the middle button in the top of the mug, and you’ve got an airtight seal that prevents spills even on the jankiest subway car.
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