Many of us spend the majority of our day at work, and have little time for saving the world.
But, there are plenty of ways to make your work lunch break eco-friendly and zero waste both in and out of the office.
Here are some easy, fun ways to have a lunch break in or out of the office that's good for you and the planet and doesn't have to revolve around food.
1. Bring a Packed Lunch
Making your own lunch and bringing it to work can save on packaging and reduce food waste.
Whether it's left overs from the night before that need to be eaten or a simple sandwich and a piece of fruit.
You can source plastic-free bread from your own local bakery, source nude fresh produce or deli meats in your own containers.
2. Bring Reusable Containers (and Cutlery)
If you're stuck without lunch or prefer takeaway, bringing a container for food and reusable cutlery can make it zero waste.
Store it in your desk drawer so you'll always be prepared and remember to give them a wash and pop them back after use.
Most places are happy for you to BYO container and if you want to do a little research before hand, I recommend checking out Trashless Takeaway.
There are listings all over Australia and some locations offer a discount to reward your efforts on avoiding single-use plastics.
3. Bring a Reusable Coffee Cup
If you always stop for a coffee hit on the way to work or grab a quick one in your lunch break, keep a reusable cup on you to avoid disposables.
KeepCup is one of my favourite options. You only need to use it 15 times to offset the environmental impact and are made in Australia, so that's less carbon miles to travel.
They are lightweight, durable and have a secure lid that stops leaks and the plastic cups can be recycled at the end of their life.
📌Remember to rinse it out and have it ready for the following day.
4. Take a Walk
Getting outdoors, even if it's just for a quick walk gives our mind a rest from the work environment and does us good physically and mentally.
It can also be an opportunity to discover the neighbourhood, pick up rubbish, spot street art, hunt for an eco-friendly shop or a small local business to support, visit the library and more.
5. Find a Green Space
Many cities and communities have dedicated greenspaces. This is a great way to get outdoors and surround yourself with a burst of nature.
Head for parklands, botanic gardens, nature reserves, courtyard escapes or a tree lined street.
You might even find a local community or roof top garden where you can contribute to growing food or drop off kitchen scraps for the compost system.
6. Op Shopping
If you're in the habit of shopping or heading to malls during your lunch break then you are probably making occasional impulse purchases and buying items you don't really need.
Scope out nearby op-shops for a more eco-friendly shopping experience, sustainable fashion, and keep more items out of landfill.
7. Go Offline
Aimlessly scrolling through social media feeds is one way to waste your lunch break that can leave you feeling a little drained.
The more we use our screens, the more electricity we need for charging and every single email, comment, and share creates a tiny bit of Co2.
Even surfing the web increases our carbon footprint!
Did you know that just 2 google searches creates 14 grams of Carbon Dioxide? To put it into perspective, that's the same as boiling a kettle.
Try reading a book or meeting up with a friend or your mum, make it something that doesn't rely on the internet and screens.
8. Locate a Sustainable Cafe
Sustainable eateries and cafes are popping up all over the place and not all of them publicly advertise their eco-friendly actions.
Many serve locally sourced seasonal foods, have a no straw policy, and serve sustainable coffee.
Others make a huge effort to reduce waste like composting food scraps, banning disposables and recycle.
9. Attend a Lunchtime Class
In 1 hour, there are lots of skills you could learn or test out that can help you live greener. If you work in the city centre there are likely regular opporunties to take part in classes.
Learn to make to make beeswax wraps, crochet a keep cup cosy, do simple repairs at home or how to make package free snacks.
Find something that interests you and go for it!
10. Host a Lunch Time Swap Party
Swap parties are exactly what they sound like. Everyone brings items they don't want and swaps it for something they do want.
Not only does it help us declutter a few things, but those items get another life of usage without the environmental impact of purchasing something new.
What works for a swap party depends a little on who you work with and common interests.
Choose a theme, like books, clothing, toys, or DVDs for example. Each person bringing an item gets a ticket or token to use in the swap.
11. Drop Off Recyclables
Get productive and locate recycling drop-off points you can visit during lunch.
RedCycle has collection points for soft plastics at Coles, Woolworths and some IGAs.
Terracycle has great recycling programs for items like contact lenses, cosmetic tubs, toothpaste tubes and more recently pens, highlighters & textas.
Mobile Muster collects mobile phones and accessories for recycling.
12. Visit a Bulk Store
Top up your pantry supplies by making a quick visit a zero waste bulk store.
Grab snacks, baking supplies, pantry staples, herbs, or some zero waste home supplies.
If you're brand new to it here's a Beginner's Guide to Bulk Shopping
What if you're stuck eating in and just can't get out?
That doesn't mean you can't make your lunch break count.
(in fact some can be done in a sneaky 5 minute break from that tedious project you've been working on)
13. Be a Desktop Warrior
Screen free time is beneficial, but we can use screens to achieve so much.
Do switch off from working and switch onto greener things.
> Join an environmental action group, find a local litter cleanup and participate on the weekend
> Search for a package free recipe to try out at home
> Do your zero waste shopping online (and double check shipping)
>Cancel your junk mail and switch to electronic bills and publications
If your workload is boring the pants of you, then lunch breaks can be a chance to use your brain cells....
Take a 5 minute critical look at the waste streams around your
workplace while you wait for the coffee machine or your microwaved left-overs.
Is there a recycle bin? (with easy to understand labels?)
Could a coffee grounds collection help cut waste?
Is there space for an organics bin?
Does your workplace have an environmental policy?
Could you start an eco work group?
These are just a few actions we can take in our daily lives, including our lunch breaks, to make the world a little greener.