How To Pack A Zero Waste Lunch

Back when I  had just started my first real, post-graduate job I was commuting about an hour each way to work, and all the restaurants in the area were mainly fast food chains that didn’t appeal to me as someone who loves healthy food, plus, I knew they generated a ton of trash through single-use to-go containers.

The bright side to it all is that I love to cook, so I decided from the get-go that I’d bring my lunch every day to work. To do so, I invested in the ultimate zero waste and plastic-free lunch kit. AKA a super cool lunch box for adults.

It included:

  • One airtight stainless steel lunch container 

    • It is great. Totally spill proof, easy to clean, and it has optional dividers so that I can keep my food separate.
  • A Set of reusable bamboo utensils in a cute carrying case

    • Besides the fact that bamboo utensils look so cool, they come in a handy carrying case. You could keep a set in your desk at work, or just keep them with you at all times in your bag. You could also pick up a fork from the Goodwill or Salvation Army to leave at the office.
  • One reusable napkin 

    • I use Organic cotton napkins at my house, and I’d bring one to the office and leave it there for the week and then bring it home to wash on Friday. So easy.
  • A couple Organic cotton bags for snacks or sandwiches 

    • You can also use them for bulk at the market. I use these to buy rice and pasta at the market, but I also use them to carry granola, nuts, popcorn or even a sandwich to work. They are super lightweight and washable.
  • Mason jar, glass, or water bottle

    • I love bringing my BKR bottle with me wherever I go. I also almost always have a mason jar or reusable coffee cup on me at all times for hot liquids like coffee. You could also bring a glass from home or purchase one at your local thrift shop for under a dollar to keep at your desk. P.S. if you drink iced coffee or tea, you might want to invest in a stainless steel straw. I LOVE mine.

 

Shop all my go-to zero waste lunch accessories and more below:

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Zero Waste Shopping: A How To Guide

One of the most common questions I get is how to shop in bulk or package free. In this series of videos you will learn how to tare your jars to buy bulk, how to buy liquids in bulk, and how to buy solids in bulk so that you can be prepared to shop Zero Waste anywhere that offers bulk.

IMPORTANT: very often I hear that people feel uncomfortable trying to buy things package free because they are afraid the people will look at them like they are weird, or challenge them. Well, guess what, Zero Waste is NOT the norm and it is likely that people might not know what you are doing.

EMBRACE IT!: If someone looks at you when you try to shop Zero Waste, it is most likely because you are the first person that they have ever seen shopping that way and they don’t know what you are doing, it’s not that they think you are weird. Take this as an opportunity to educate someone or reach out to them and explain what you are doing in a positive way. Remember, the more you shop package free, the more common it will become for stores and other shoppers and the more comfortable others will feel doing it. I believe in living my values, and so I am never afraid of looking different from others, I embrace it!

YOUR ONE STOP SHOP: And lucky for you, I recently opened a store, Package Free Shop, alongside my business partner Zero Waste Daniel to make it easier for anyone and everyone to transition into a low, or zero waste lifestyle. You can shop all my favorite items online here, or if you’re in NYC, stop by our shop at  137 Grand Street Brooklyn NY, 11249 Below are a few essential items to get you going.


 

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How to Shop at the Farmers Market Without Producing Waste

When I first started living a Zero Waste lifestyle I had never really shopped at a farmers market before. It seemed intimidating, scary, and overwhelming. But a few simple shopping hacks made it a lot easier and made buying food go from a super wasteful, time consuming process, to one that is easy and totally waste free! Check out this video to see how I shop at the farmers market.

Step 1: Big Stuff, Big Bag. Any large items don’t need a bag of their own, just throw them in your tote!
Step 2: Small Stuff, Small Bag. Any small loose items can be put into smaller organic cotton reusable bags, or any smaller reusable bag you have (or make!)
Step 3: Reuse containers whenever possible. This works well for berries, eggs, and other items that might have a container. Bring them back to the farmer so they can reuse them.
Step 4: Pay in cash to avoid receipts.
Step 5: Napkins double as a great way to buy bread and pastries package free!

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How To Shop Zero Waste at the Farmers Market

Every Saturday I go to the farmers market in my neighborhood in Brooklyn to drop off my compost and to buy my food for the week. Not only is it less expensive than going to a conventional supermarket, it creates a lot of diversity in my diet because I arrange my meals based on what is fresh and seasonal.

In this video you will learn how I prepare before I go to the market and the tools that I bring to ensure it is completely waste free.

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How to Tare a Jar and Shop Waste Free

Zero Waste food shopping is a weekly activity for me. I go to the farmers market for my produce and use reusable organic cotton bags for items like nuts but for wet items like honey, olive oil, flour, and spices, I opt for jars to keep things organized and make cleaning simple.

Learn how I do it using five simple steps!

Step 1: Choose your Jar (I love mason jars because they have a standard weight, but you can also upcycle your own jars)

Step 2: Tare (pre-weigh) your jar. Why? Because when the cashier gets the jar, they can subtract the weight of the jar from the total weight, so you are only paying for what is inside. You can write the tare on your jar in permanent marker to make it easy to remember.

Step 3: Fill your jar and write down the number of the item you are buying. I like to keep a note open on my cellphone that has the item name and number to expedite the checkout process, plus it’s waste free!

Step 4: Tell the cashier the weight of your jar and they can deduct that from the total weight of the jar

Step 5: Say THANK YOU to the awesome store for letting you bring your own packaging!

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Plastic Bags

I’m starting a new series called Simple Swaps where I will share videos on easy ways to transition away from disposables and towards a more sustainable lifestyle. My first one: plastic bags.

With an estimated 2 million plastic bags being used and discarded every minute worldwide, we’ve got a serious problemo on our hands. But there’s an easy way you can eliminate your daily use of plastic bags…

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Zero Waste Picnic


I’m so grateful to have friends that are passionate about lots of different things. Two of my friends, Anna and Kate, are passionate about healthy, Organic food and we decided to join forces and have a Zero Waste picnic.

The planning was easy because we chose to make our picnic potluck style. We each made a dish and since I was hosting the picnic at my house, I provided the blanket, silverware, cups, and plates. However, if you wanted to host this at a park or beach or wherever, you could have each person bring their own plate/cup/napkin/fork to make carrying everything easier.

Anna and Kate brought their dishes in mason jars and larger, lidded glass containers instead of in plastic or other disposables. This made cleanup and carrying the food extremely easy and prevented spillage! Also, since our meal was vegan, Organic, and mostly raw, our ingredients were easily found package-free!

I made mashed purple potatoes with roasted onions, Kate made spaghetti squash with figs and vegan cheese topping, and Anna made roasted eggplant with tomato sauce and brussel sprouts. For dessert we had fresh figs and dried dates. To drink I served meyer lemon vodka with sparkling water infused with basil and mint from my terrace garden.

The cleanup could not have been easier since 1) we ate all of the food and 2) there were only a few jars and plates to clean, and the girls took their containers home, so I only had to clean 3 cups, 3 forks, a couple of serving spoons, and 3 plates. This event was so simple that it could be scaled up for more people without much effort at all and is the perfect way to host your friends because everyone gets to make something that they love and share it with one another.

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