How to make your lunches more eco-friendly

One Change: Lose the cling film, plan your food week and avoid take-aways

Beeswax wraps are a natural, reusable alternative to plastics.

Beeswax wraps are a natural, reusable alternative to plastics.

 

Last month, a boy walking along the beach in Merseyside in north-west England discovered a 50-year-old crisp packet. The 5p bag of roast chicken flavour Golden Wonders had a message on it about raising money for British athletes attending the 1968 Olympics in Mexico. And despite being a bit wrinkled and faded after so many years on the shoreline, the packet was surprisingly well preserved – a testament to the long life of throwaway plastic.

Most crisp packets are made from a kind of metallised plastic film and are not recyclable, so they usually end up in landfills. As a nation of cheese and onion fanatics – 500 bags of Tayto were sold every minute in 2015 – I truly hope a recyclable or compostable alternative becomes widely available soon. Until then, it’s worth bearing in mind the environmental impact the next time you pick up a bag of crisps to have with a sandwich.

If you’re looking for other ways to make lunchtimes at the office or school more eco-friendly, start by tackling any unnecessary packaging. Compartmentalised lunchboxes are a great way to avoid waste such as cling film and tinfoil, while beeswax wraps are a natural, reusable alternative to plastics and are widely available online (see irelandbeeswaxwraps.ie) and soon to be stocked in SuperValu stores. These colourful wraps come in different sizes and though they cost more than a roll of cling film – a pack of four costs €16.95 – they last a lot longer, keep food fresh and are easy to clean.

Plan your lunches

Plan your lunches. Statistics suggest we’re not very good at organising our food use, wasting an estimated one tonne of food per household in Ireland every year. Almost 50 per cent of salad items, for example, end up in the bin, and that’s followed by fruit and vegetables at 25 per cent and bread and bakery items at 20 per cent. There are lots of tips on StopFoodWaste.ie to help you plan your food week and keep waste to a minimum by getting portions right and meal matching to make the most of what you buy.  

Eat in. Take-away food comes with so much waste – from salad boxes to sandwich packets, paper bags, napkins, and the add-ons of bottled water or a bar of chocolate. And as the top producer of plastic waste in Europe – generating an average 61kg per person per year – we urgently need to reduce the daily throwaway items we have become so accustomed to. So if you buy lunch out a few times a week, think about bringing your own tub and reusable cutlery, or just take a seat and eat in instead.

@SorchaHamilton

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