The mighty brown bag lunch


I was really struck this week by one paragraph in a New York Times story about recycling takeout food containers. The piece outlines the massive volume of plastic, styrofoam and paper containers (and forks and cups and napkins) that New Yorkers use each day, and mostly have to throw away, due to outdated collection practices.

Here’s the killer paragraph:

“There’s nothing I can do,” said Doug Richardson, 25, an accountant eating a chicken salad from a deep plastic bowl. “It annoys me. It’s plastic in a landfill.”

Actually, Doug, there is something you can do. Bring your own lunch!

It’s certainly convenient, and it can be fun, to get takeout. And in New York, the options abound for a delicious meal that’s handed across the counter, all ready to go. (Same in Charlottesville, on a more modest scale.)

But if it prevents a mountain of single-use containers every week, I say it’s well worth it to pack yourself a meal. Of course it saves a lot of cash, too.

But what will I eat? you ask. Personally, rather than making a whole new sandwich or something every morning, my method is usually just to take leftovers from dinner. One container of soup or pasta or dahl, a piece of fruit, and off I go. (I’ve never been organized enough to leave silverware at work, but that would have made things easier.)

So real cooking–rather than premade stuff or takeout or whatever–becomes the key to greener eating at both lunch and dinner. Could it be that the stove is your most earth-friendly tool?

Think about it, Doug.