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.

The easiest and greenest way to transport your food from home to wherever you are going would be glass and/or stainless steel lunch containers. While that might be the best way, for most of us replacing all the containers in our homes with glass and plastic is expensive, so LEN suggests using the containers you have already and slowly replacing them with non-plastic ones.

I personally have been able to find great glass and metal lunch containers at second-hand stores such as GoodWill, Habitat for Humanity re-sale, and Talize Thrift. Of course I heavily sanitize and wash them before use, but after that they are a cost effective and eco-friendly way to help the environment.

We summarized the list of “yes” and “no” items (via in the chart below

Yes No
  • Reusable lunch box
  • Bento box
  • Reusable snack bags or containers
  • Reusable utensils
  • Cloth napkin
  • Stainless steel straw
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Disposable paper or plastic lunch bag
  • Plastic snack or sandwich bags
  • Prepackaged or individually packaged snacks
  • Plastic straw
  • Juice box, soda can, disposable water bottle
  • Til foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Parchment paper

Here are some great step by step resources for packing a zero waste lunch:

How to Pack a Zero Waste Lunch + 10 Meal Ideas – Going Zero Waste

10 Tips for Packing a Zero Waste Lunch – Zero Waste Chef

How to Pack a Zero Waste Lunch – One Green Planet

Packing a Zero Waste Lunch – Wasteless Thinking

Zero Waste Lunches – The Green Bicycle Co.

Articles in our Zero Waste Lunch series:

1 – Getting Started – zero waste starts with a plan (meal planning and recipes)

2 – Shopping with a purpose – how to grocery shop and not drop the ball on the environment

3 – Packing, storing, and breaking up with plastic wrap – making sure your food lasts

4 – Packing your lunch without packing waste

5 – Wasteless Lunch Week Social Media Sharables

This series was written and created by Kaitlyn Tyschenko, the Communications and Outreach Assistant for the London Environmental Network (Summer 2017). She can be contacted at communications[at]