Pack and Eat a No Waste Lunch

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Pack a No Waste Lunch

A ‘no-waste lunch’ is a meal that does not end up in the trash. You can buy food items in bulk, then put them in reusable containers to carry to school or work. Packing your food in reusables is typically less expensive and creates less waste than buying food that comes in disposable containers.

1. Pack your lunch in a reusable box or bag OR reuse a paper or plastic bag.

2. Pack a cloth napkin instead of disposable napkins and wash them at home.

3. Use an icepack in your lunch box or bag so that your food stays fresh until it is eaten.

4. Keep uneaten foods in the lunch box/bag to be eaten later, following food safety guidelines.

5. Compost partially-eaten foods that will not be eaten later in your compost bin at home. Store leftovers in a sealed container.

6. Avoid items that will end up in the trash–soiled paper napkins, chip bags, or plastic wrap, for example.

7. Use only recyclable containers/materials such as aluminum cans and foil, #1 or #2 plastic bottles that can be taken home to recycle if your school or office does not offer recycling.

Eat a No Waste Lunch

If you eat at the school or office cafeteria, consider these options to reduce your lunch waste. More than 20% of the food we buy gets thrown away leading to about 48 million tons of food being thrown away in the U.S. each year!

1. Take only as much food as you will eat. If you’re still hungry, go back for seconds!

2. Ask your school or work cafeteria to use items such as reusable trays, napkins and silverware.

3. If your cafeteria does not offer real dishes, bring your own tote of a cloth napkin, silverware and container for leftovers.

4. Share your leftovers with a friend or co-worker or bring a container with you to take home leftovers.

5. Take home recyclable cans and bottles if your cafeteria does not recycle.

Ideas for reducing waste at school, work and home,

Success stories including schools in Minnesota

Call the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for multiple copies of “Creating Less Trash at School” 651-296-6300 or visit for the PDF.

No Waste Lunch

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