With every new season come new adventures, new opportunities and new chances to make small changes to your everyday lifestyle. Reporting on behalf of the Green Team, an internal Lawrence Group committee dedicated to sustainability, this summer we’re exploring ways to incorporate sustainability into our everyday habits, starting with the office lunch hour. Inspired by incredibly dedicated, environmentally conscious Green Team members (and my pretty new lunch box!), here’s a list of sustainable habits to incorporate into your daily lunching routine:
1. Avoid Styrofoam
To-go containers, disposable plates, coffee cups – These common everyday items are often made of Styrofoam, a non-biodegradable plastic. Due to toxic chemicals released during the recycling process, many community recycling programs do not accept Styrofoam. As a result, the toxic plastic sits in landfills for hundreds of years, contaminating soil and water supplies.
2. Invest in Reusable Containers
Like Styrofoam, single-use, disposable containers are another item consuming unnecessary amounts of energy to break down while many plastic containers also release toxic chemicals into our foods. Investing in a reusable lunch bag, water bottle, and stainless steel or glass containers made specifically for food is a great way to ditch single-use materials such as brown paper bags, foil, plastic wrap, etc.
3. Reduce Individually Wrapped, Prepackaged Foods
Because most wrappers used to package foods (i.e. chip bags and candy bar wrappers) are unrecyclable, processed and prepackaged foods contribute heavily to landfill and ocean pollution. When packing a lunch or snack, choose simple, unprocessed foods such as fruits and vegetables. Not only are unprocessed foods a healthier option, they also reduce the number of those single serving chip bags and fun-sized candy wrappers making their way into the landfill.
4. Limit Meat & Dairy
Meatless Mondays? Raising animals for food requires a significant amount of land, food, energy and water. According to scientists, Americans eat 270 pounds of meat a year, while countries such as France average just 35 pounds per year. Choosing to eat meat in moderation is an environmentally sustainable move that can help sustain the global food system.
5. Support Sustainable Restaurants
Not thrilled about packing a lunch every day? Consider supporting environmentally friendly eating establishments when dining out. Look for restaurants that use local, organic ingredients, ban indoor smoking and show no sign of Styrofoam containers. Organizations such as the Green Dining Alliance in St. Louis recognize local restaurants that have demonstrated a commitment to the environment through practices and policies that shape the way they do business.
So, how does your lunch rank? Room for improvement? Next time, challenge yourself to incorporate a new sustainable habit. Happy healthy eating!Lindsay Harper