Sustainable Packed Lunches

Back to School

It’s that time of year already when children are heading back to school and making packed lunches everyday becomes part of our routine. Even if you don’t have children in school, September can feel like a fresh start and a great time to implement new habits. Lunches are often the most rushed meal of the day and it’s easy for them to become filled with single use plastic. Whether you are packing your kids lunch boxes or trying to get better about not buying meal deals here are some tips and ideas for making lunch time more sustainable.

Box it up

Let’s start with the most obvious one, the humble lunch box. Buying a box to pop your lunch in is a great place to start for reducing waste. No need to wrap your sandwiches in single use cling film, tin foil or single use sandwich bags. It also makes for a more enjoyable lunch, gone are the days of squished sandwiches and crisps crushed to dust.

We would recommended picking a lunch box based on your or your child’s personal eating habits. What type of packed lunches do you enjoy? If you are always heating up leftovers, make sure you pick a microwave safe and leak proof option. Always making salads? Choose one with a salad dressing pot included. Prefer lots of snacks over one big lunch? Choose a bento box with lots of compartments. Don’t want to spend any money? That’s okay leftover Chinese takeaway boxes are great to reuse. There is something for everyone on the market.

Reusable Cutlery

England uses 2.7 billion items of single-use cutlery — most of which are plastic — per year, but only 10% are recycled. If you love a pasta salad, yogurt or anything that requires cutlery remember to pack reusable cutlery. This doesn’t have to be a fancy bamboo set even just your regular metal fork/tea spoon from the cutlery drawer works.

Water Bottle

In 2021, approximately 2.51 billion litres of bottled water were consumed in the UK. Obviously single use plastic bottles are a big problem. Don’t add to the issue and get yourself a funky water bottle. The market is full of so many cool ones for every preference. From stainless steel double walled bottles which keep your water cool for hours to TikTok’s favourite Stanley mugs, there is something for everyone. If you need reminding to drink water? No worries you can get a bottle with time reminders on the side. If you don’t like the taste of water? No worries air up offer bottles that flavours your water through scent.

What’s Inside

When you are all set up with your packed lunch accessories it can be easy to choose easy pre-packaged plastic foods. Here are some tips to help you cut down on the waste inside your lunch box:

  • Using leftovers are our favourite way to cut down on food waste. Make an extra dinner portion the night before and you have scrummy lunch ready to go. BBC good foods have lots of leftover food ideas here. Especially if your work place has a microwave we believe almost any dinner can also be a yummy lunch. Don’t have access to a microwave? No worries you can buy thermos lunch boxes that keep your food heated until lunch time.
  • As appealing and cute as they are try to avoid individually wrapped snacks (we know they are cute!) Instead buy the larger version and decant yourself eg. Soreen bars also come in a larger version with way less packaging. Even food like yogurts can be decanted into a reusable pot instead of purchasing in individual pots.
  • Seasonal foods are not only a more sustainable option but often cheaper. To find out which foods are in season this September click here.
  • Looking for inspiration? If you want some inspiration for what to pack for your child there are so many resources out there. Here is an article from BBC Good Food. There are also some really fun TikTok accounts with extremely beautiful lunches if you want to go all out: @ross_ini, @adalynnslunchbox, @happy_lunchables. Obviously majority of us don’t have time to make packed lunches this extra but the variety of food in the lunches can be used as inspiration.
  • It’s incredibly rare to find a compost whilst out and about, or in schools. If you have a compost bin at home you could consider bringing food waste home with you to compost. Encourage your children to leave their waste in their lunch box so you can pop the leftovers/fruit peels in the compost. If you are interested in starting composting but not sure which bin to buy or where to start, read our composting 101 blog post.

Sustainable choices that can be sustained…

It’s easy to give these tips but how can we make this actually happen? Life is chaotic and busy and often the most convenient option is what we end up going with.

Keeping Spares – Of course there will be days where we forget our cutlery or water bottle. Keep spare reusable cutlery in your car, bag or office desk. This way you will always have a reusable option around if and when you need it.

The night before – Use the evening before to sort your packed lunches. This can be as simple as when dishing out dinner you can also dish out a portion for the lunch boxes.

Meal Prep – This doesn’t have to be packing 5 different lunch boxes ready for every day of the week but could be as simple as prepping a salad which will last a few days or cooking a batch of cookies for your snacks. Having food already prepared makes buying a plastic covered snack even less likely.


Are you looking to be more sustainable not just at lunch time? Then check out our range of cleaning products for every corner of your home. From wiping down your surfaces after you prepped your lunch to washing up your lunch box. We have a plastic free cleaner for it all.