When you bring your lunch to work, you’re already doing yourself some good: Research shows that homemade meals tend to be lower in fat and sugar—and generally more healthful—than restaurant meals. Packing that lunch in sustainable materials that last, instead of single-use plastics, earns you extra points.
Most of the world’s plastic—some 90.5 percent of it—is not recycled. That number, alarming on its own, becomes even more disturbing when you learn that 40 percent of the plastic produced is used just once before it gets discarded. When you consider the plastic items that pass through your hands every day before hitting the trash—disposable cups, cutlery, and bags—you may realize you’re contributing to these statistics more than you’d care to admit. An easy first step to tackling this massive plastic-waste problem is to commit to using durable, sustainable materials in place of the kind that go straight to the bin. The products below can help you curb your plastic habit at lunchtime and beyond.
A fuss-free travel coffee cup. This collapsible coffee cup is a must-have. Stojo, a member of WeWork Dumbo Heights in New York, seamlessly shrinks to fit inside a purse, a backpack, a back pocket, and everything in between. While the conventional travel mug is cumbersome, this sleek cup defines “portable.” It holds cold and hot beverages, comes in two sizes (the larger one comes with a reusable straw), and is dishwasher-safe. You’ll want to have this on hand around lunchtime, whether you’re fueling up on your second cup of coffee or staying hydrated with H20. $14.99 and up
Tins that keep your snacks at perfect temperatures. You know S’well for stylish water bottles, but did you know the brand makes snack containers? The company, a member of WeWork Medius House in London, recently released these double-layer, food-grade stainless-steel containers designed to keep food temperature-controlled. S’nack by S’well products are condensation-proof and come with a leak-proof lid. That’s way more than you can say for your old takeout containers. With some snazzy patterns and different sizes, these vessels will hold all of your healthful snacks to keep hanger at bay during the workday. $19.99 and up
Rhymes with “lip zock” but lasts forever. Snack-size plastic bags are convenient, sure, but their single-use function isn’t doing the planet any favors. Stasher bags provide all of the ease of baggies without the repercussions. The silicone storage bags are better than their flimsy counterparts they’re microwave- and dishwasher-safe, sous-vide friendly, and can even go in the oven. They store liquids and solids and come in multiple shapes and sizes. Once you own one, you’ll never look at a plastic bag the same. $7.99 and up
A packable lunch bowl with so much style. Those feeble lunch containers of yore are no match for the Porter Bowl, a genius, durable canister from W and P design. Made of ceramic (there’s also a plastic version), the bowl is equipped with a snap-tight silicone strap to keep all of your food in place during your commute. It’s also BPA-free, microwave-safe, and dishwasher-friendly — there’s really not much more you could ask from a portable lunch bowl. This one comes in several sharp colors that seem to make any lunch look even more appetizing. $25 and up
On days when you’re not bringing lunch from home, consider picking up your meal at a spot that embraces sustainability. Chains like Just Salad allow customers to purchase a reusable salad bowl (that earns you a discount each time you use it) and services like Go Box, which partners with brands on the west coast, promote the use of reusable food containers that are collected, cleaned and redistributed.