The landscape of lunch time in America has gone through some major changes. In the early 1900’s leftovers were wrapped in the remaining wax paper from loaves of bread and stuffed inside stainless steel boxes. As we approached mid-century, hot lunches were becoming readily available. Going into our modern age, disposables have taken over the cafeteria. In the last year or so, I’ve seen a lot of pinterest focusing on reusable containers to ditch disposables. Hopefully that trend will keep going.
At the beginning of school every year, my mom took me shopping for a colorful insulated lunch box. I grew up in a military family, and we moved often. I started high school in a new state and no one carried a lunch box. I quickly ditched mine for a classic brown bag to fit in. With that bag I tossed a sandwich bag, a chip bag, the package of a little Debbie cake, and a tiny plastic Gatorade bottle. I did that every school day for almost four years. I created 150lbs (based on the trash weighing .2 ounces) of trash. Most packed lunches look like that. Imagine the impact it would have if we focused on reusables.
As an adult, I find my challenges to be different. I like to pack my lunch because I’m frugal. But, there are several cafés and food trucks very close to work. I work with a lot of guys, and they never pack lunches. They always parade their burritos, Hawaiian BBQ, roast beef sandwiches, and burgers right by my desk. It always smells amazing! I work in an area with a lot of people on the go and everything is over packaged. Burritos are wrapped in foil, sandwiches saran wrapped on Styrofoam, and burgers locked in Styrofoam to go boxes.
Fortunately the little café on the corner is used to us bringing our own plates. They still use the toothpicks, but I’m sure they’ll learn soon. We eat out about once a week. We bring a big jug of water, cloth napkins, and with most of the food you only need your fingers! We sit outside under their nice pergola so the fluff ball gets to wait for burger scraps. It’s hard being an office dog.
Do you go out or pack your lunch? What’s you favorite lunch to bring to work? (I need some new zero-waste ideas.)