For most of my life I haven't had to pack anybody’s lunch but my own. I was a single, working woman who packed a lunch for myself when I felt like it and ate out when I didn’t. There were many times when I went hungry because I was too busy to eat lunch. The point is, lunch was all about me and what made me happy.
Then came Covid. By this time I was married and my partner’s work was picking up at a time when I had a bit more flexibility. I thought it would be nice to make him a sandwich. It wasn’t until I decided to take a break from work altogether that the joy of packing his lunch started to wear off, even though he had never asked me to do it and was always very appreciative. I realized that without a day job, I started to feel that my whole identity was wrapped up in being a “wife,” which kind of freaked me out. Until I decided to focus on what was really important: making my husband’s lunch made both of us feel needed and loved. And it made us happy.
Now that I’m ramping my professional life back up, I still make his lunch and it still makes us both happy. Beyond knowing that he’s nourished and thinking of me as he chomps on that PB&J, it’s been great to try some of the terrific products What’s Good offers to help his sandwich stay fresh while keeping things green.
Now that your kids and grandkids are heading back to school, it’s the perfect time to try one more green thing: pack their lunch the green way. Don't worry, you have options. Here are eight green ways to pack a sandwich to go, for every budget and all shades of green:
The BioBag is just like a regular zip-lock bag, but better. Much better. First, it’s not made of plastic (score!). Secondly, it’s compostable (double score!). It is just as convenient as a regular bag: it has a nice tight seal and the ability to store your favorite sandwich and fruit, chips, cookies, veggies and other snacks. You can use these more than once, too—just wash ‘em out and let them dry and they’re good to go for the next day. At $4.98 for 25 bags, this is a worry and guilt-free alternative.
Made from unbleached spruce pulp – a natural, renewable resource –IfYou Care Snack and Sandwich Bags are greaseproof, making the bags ideal for nuts, potato chips, cookies, and the messiest of sandwiches. At just $5.98 for 48 bags, you can pack that lunch, worry and guilt-free.
Thisunbleached wax paper from If You Care is just like conventional wax paper, but made without chlorine and parabens. Made from 100% bio-based products like natural soybean wax, it’s the perfect way to wrap your sandwich without putting harsh chemicals into the environment or your tummy, or unwanted flavors in your PB&J. Just $6.48 for a 65 ft roll. That's a lot of sammie's.
For those of you who like the ease of cling wrap, we’ve got a plant-based, green version. Thiscompostable cling wrap from Zefiro is plastic-free, vegan, and comes in recyclable packaging. At just $7.98 for a 100 ft roll of pre-perforated sheets, it makes the green switch easy and affordable.
For reusable options, which we recommend, let’s start withthese silicone bags from Porter. It zips closed to seal in your sammie’s goodness and keep it fresh. Made from 100% food grade silicone, they are also light-weight and really easy to pack, close and clean. We love that the silicone is really clear—not foggy like some others we’ve tested—so you can see what’s inside. With prices starting at $9.98 for something you'll use over and over and over again, it’s a good alternative to traditional plastic zip baggies.
Also on the colorful side is thisorganic cotton sandwich bag, which comes in many designs and themes. Get one for every day of the week and mix and match with fruits, vegetables and other snacks for added fun. Like our other options, this bag is non-toxic, reusable and can serve multiple functions. Just $8.98 per bag.
For a bit more color, trywrapping your sandwich in beeswaxor vegan wax wraps. It works more like foil, but these brightly colored fabrics dipped in beeswax make for the perfect sandwich protector—and their naturally antimicrobial for longer laster protection. I love all the sizes and designs to choose from, which just makes packing lunch more fun. And every time you wrap a sandwich, you know you’re not putting anything bad into the environment because they’re made with organic cotton. When you’ve gotten all the use out of them that you can – they should last about a year – you just put them in the composter. Just $16.98 for a pack of three from Nature Bee or $19.98 from Mind Your Bees.
If your kid—or whoever you’re packing a lunch for—is a bit rough and tumble, you might consider protecting your lovingly made sandwich with thisstainless steel container, complete with a silicone lid. I often use one that’s big enough for a sandwich and chips or fruit. I love these so much more than the plastic storage containers, mostly because they are non-toxic, but they also clean up very easily. I just feel good knowing they’re better for the planet. Sizes starting at $15.98.
Questions? Send us an email, we'd be happy to help you find an ECOnomical choice that's best for you.
About Stephanie Bowen: After two successful careers —one in broadcast journalism, another as a communications and PR pro working in global health, development and rights — Stephanie is harnessing her love of story and strategic communications for positive impact with the consultancy practice, SHARE: Stories that Buzz. She is a contributor, sounding board, friend, and customer of What's Good.