Monday, April 16, 2007

More than One Way to Brown Bag It

For those of us who work away from home, there are few ways to be more environmentally active on a daily basis than to improve how you transport and consume your lunch.

Cutlery Consider bringing your own cutlery and washing after each use. I saw To-Go-Ware featured in Vegetarian Times a few months ago, and was struck by their stylish and convenient wrap for bamboo cuterly. And think of the plastic that you won't throw away. Also, plastic is really not the sort of thing you want to put in your mouth.

Carrying Case Consider a reusable constainer like this stainless steel one with two compartments and a plate. It looks like you can get both the reusable container and cutlery for $32. Of course, you might want an insulated case to avoid the confusion of The Office Refrigerator. A hipster coworker carried this one quite well, but I'm quite taken with the orange version of the Fleurville . I should also mention Vegan Lunch box, which consistently has nice bento box containers (and very happy lunches).

Napkins I used to keep cloth napkins and stainless silverware from home in my desk (I brought the napkins home on Friday for washing). Yes, even ten years ago, I did this. (Al Gore did not actually invent environmental awareness, though I think he thinks so....) In any case, I mention this because you do not have to buy anything in order to change you habits. Just grab your cloth napkins and a set of silverware from home.

Beverage containers Consider a reusable bottle (fairly girly link) to fill for your water. But not a plastic one because there's quite a lot of research that suggests even my Nalgene bottle leaches crap into my body, which affects the endocrine system. There's a good discussion of the science behind it by Umbra in Grist. Get an aluminum one (less girly image) that is relatively safe, light weight, and made with fair labor and fair wages. (Although, yes, aluminum is hardly an ethically pure metal. Mining of it is not so good for the land...but you only need one bottle. In any case, aluminum is now thought to be a much better choice than plastic, and as an important aside, if you have a baby, please be aware of the research about plastic and babies.)

On my end, I may use my tote bag collection to haul groceries from Trader Joe's. We normally use their brown bags as trash bags...but every conference I go to seems to give me a tote bag, so perhaps I should find a use for them.