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On Sustainable Lunches

Another weekend has come and (almost) gone.  Parent reports, snail mail composition, cleaning the apartment, and grocery shopping were on a self-sustaining to-do list.  To step away from the hustle and bustle of a busy weekend, however, I decided to take a walk.  I have been decidedly more active recently, now that the weather is beginning to warm up (my spirit animal would be a bear, I definitely hibernate in the wintertime).  It is sunny and brisk and all I needed was a spring jacket.  All the usual paths seemed a little too stale, however, so I thought I’d pack up a small lunch for Sawyer, who is spending the day in studio with architecture work up to his eyeballs.  There is something quaint about a paper bag lunch.  With a collapsible bowl of goldfish and a slice of pizza left over from last night folded into a sustainable cloth wrap, I made my way to campus.

Four days out of five, I bring my lunch to work.  Not only do I save money by not eating out on my lunches, I also have time to go for walks on nice days instead of spending time in my car driving to a suitable lunch place and then sitting in a Panera/Subway/etc. to finish eating.  I never go anywhere without my trusty eco-friendly orange spork, which I’ve had since my undergraduate career.  I also have collapsible food containers that – while are made of silicone – I still use out of guilt (I can’t bring myself to throw them out and have them sit in the landfill for…well, forever.  However, I not-so-recently discovered Bee’s Wrap, which is handmade by a dedicated group of women in Bristol, Vermont (shout out to my home state!).  It is a sustainable, compostable, eco-friendly beeswax and cloth food wrap that I can use with just about anything.  Bee’s Wrap is a Green America certified business with a vested interest in the environment, healthful kitchen habits, and social change.  I couldn’t be more smitten with the product they create, and the wonderful honey-wax smell that the wraps have is just icing on the cake.

Real talk: Duke University’s Center for Sustainability and Commerce says the Average American generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day, all adding up to a whopping 220 million tons of waste per year.  55% of that waste is channeled into landfills, even when two-thirds of our household waste can be composted.  I have written before about the benefits of composting, especially in a small apartment setting, and continue to stand behind those sentiments.  I am also focusing on my foods’ carbon footprint.  In-season fruits (or going without), filtered tap water rather than bottled, and certified organic foods versus synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are all things I am focusing on when I travel to the grocery store.  There are so many different ways to reduce our carbon footprints that it’s easy to take the first step toward creating a more sustainable future, while also moving ourselves toward a healthier and more thoughtful lifestyle in the process (I highly recommend checking out Racing Extinction’s “Eat Better to Save Animals” interactive page [equipped with educational links galore, I might add] if you’d like to receive further information on how you can reduce your foods’ carbon footprint).  I’m not perfect, however: I buy myself the occasional fuji apple, I forget to bring my reusable bags into the store with me until I’m halfway down the checkout line, and even wander into Trader Joe’s from time-to-time.  I’m guilty of this, mostly because I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the price tags.  But I forgive myself knowing that my intent is to live a more thoughtful and simple lifestyle, and for the most part, I do that (click here if you’d like some advice on how to go organic on a budget!).IMG_6790.jpg

Finally, my lunch bag.  If one isn’t careful, one can end up with several different lunch bags, but only use one or two of them.  I knew that I only ever wanted one lunch bag, so I needed something that I knew I wouldn’t “grow out of” in a year or two.  So I picked a coated polyester Doggie Bag made by Scout.  It’s refreshing color scheme and simple pattern will, in my opinion, remain “in style” for a lifetime (and I’m hoping that’s how long this bag lasts me!).  With the bag’s dimensions, I am able to fit a lunch, little bottle or thermos, and a snack easily inside.  This past summer I used it to tote a six-pack of hard cider to a BBQ in Conshohocken.

When I decided to simplify my life, I -understandably – already had stuff.  I had to be selective about the things I threw away – knowing that many of them would end up in landfills, unable to break down and decompose.  Items like my collapsible containers were given new life, as I couldn’t get rid of them, and they also inspired me to shop more selectively in the future (glass pyrex is my go-to choice now).  I kept the plastic spork I had gotten during my undergrad rather than swapping it out for a more preferable bamboo or SpudWare version.  Moving forward, I am striving to be as simplistic and thoughtful as I can to reduce my footprint on our world that needs us to speak on its behalf.

Happy munching and lunching, friends!

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