The zero-waste lifestyle is a growing trend amongst millennials as a way of combating negative human impact on the environment that has led to problems such as climate change, habitat destruction, and even species extinction.

The average American produces 4.4 pounds of trash a year. This is a huge amount, when compared to developed nations around the world. To do your part in reducing this staggering statistic and decrease your personal impact on the environment, you can start by producing less trash in the kitchen and following this easy guide to making a zero-waste lunch. 

Lunch Box

First, you will need a lunch box to hold your yummy zero-waste lunch. It is best to choose a metal or silicone lunch box. These materials are more sustainable than plastic and better for your health too. 

Plastic containers often contain bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, chemicals that have been shown to be harmful to our health. ECOlunchbox creates non-toxic, plastic-free lunch boxes that are easy to clean. These metal containers also come in a variety of sizes, so you can choose the perfect portion size for you.

I love to pack veggie wraps in my lunch and their Blue Water Bento Splash Box is the perfect size.

Reusable Baggies

Replace disposable plastic ziplock baggies with a reusable option instead. Stasher creates silicone bags that can be washed out and reused. When taken care of properly, these bags can last a lifetime. This is a much more environmentally friendly alternative to disposable bags. Also, think of the time and money you will save by buying these instead of repurchasing single-use baggies. I think these bags are perfect for storing trail mix and keeping your sandwich fresh at lunch time.

Reusable Water Bottle

It is important to stay hydrated throughout the day, so an eco-friendly water bottle is a must. Made by Fressko creates beautiful glass and bamboo bottles. These flasks are seriously well made and well worth the investment. Their double-walled glass flask is perfect for hot and cold beverages and comes with their 2-1 infuser filter.

This special filter allows you do steep tea or make delicious fruit infused water. The best part is that this water bottle is made of sustainable materials and built to last. What more could you ask for?

However, if you would prefer a metal bottle, Earthlust and Hydroflask both provide great options. I personally love Earthlust water bottles which are well priced and come in a variety of beautiful designs. Their nature inspired prints will remind you of why its important to preserve our planet. The sea turtle print is my favorite.


You will also need utensils, so I suggest the RePEat utensil kit by To-Go Ware. These utensils are made from bamboo and come in a convenient holder that is made from the recycled plastic of one disposable water bottle. Each set comes with a fork, spoon, knife, and chopsticks.

The pouch is probably the best part, because it features a key ring you can clip to your backpack and take anywhere. So, even if you forget to pack a lunch, you won't have to use single-use plastic utensils. For me this, RePEat utensil kit is a necessity.

A majority of the 500 million straws used daily in America end up in our oceans and eventually the stomachs of marine life. If you're bougie like me and enjoy drinking your beverages out of straws, consider purchasing these reusable bamboo straws by Truly Vegan.

Bamboo is an especially sustainable material because it is durable, grown without pesticides, does not require irrigation, and does not need to be replanted. These straws are made from whole bamboo in Bali, Indonesia and come with a bag and cleaning brush.

They are perfect for sipping yummy smoothies as the weather warms up. I personally love to make protein packed green smoothies when I'm on the go.


There are a variety of places you can buy reusable cloth napkins or you can make your own. However, NatureZway bamboo paper towels are also a great option. These are not just great for cleaning, but make great napkins as well. One roll of their perforated bamboo towels will replace 7 rolls of regular paper towels.

Lunch Bag

Swap your brown paper lunch bag for a reusable one. Waxed canvas lunch bag creates bags that look just like the traditional brown bag; however, their waxed version is easy to clean and reusable. ECOlunchbox has a number of cute cotton lunch bag options in their online store.

Personally, I think Fluf lunch bags are awesome. Their classic lunch bag is washable, durable, and made of organic cotton. It's also easy to flatten and put away when empty. The "doggy bag" design is much cuter than an ugly brown lunch bag, and better for our planet too. 

Zero-Waste Grocery Shopping

If you want to reduce the amount of trash you produce even more, try zero-waste grocery shopping when buying supplies for your lunch.

Instead of paper or plastic, opt for a reusable bag. I use ChicoBag totes when I shop. They are made out of recycled material and fold up into an easy to carry pouch, making them super convenient. They also come in multiple sizes. I find that using one Vita bag (the size of a large tote) and one Original bag (the size of a disposable plastic bag) is enough for my weekly shopping trip. They make produce bags as well.

Also, glass mason jars are also perfect for buying nuts and grains in bulk. Shopping zero-waste forces you to buy more whole plant foods and less processed food, leading to healthier lunches. It's great for your body and the planet.

Climate change is a growing issue that will only worsen if we remain complacent. It is important that we take action to reduce waste and our personal impact on the environment.

Packing your own trash free lunch is an easy way to do this. However, even on days you don't want to pack your lunch, you can still find ways to live a low impact lifestyle. Check if your school has a green dining program. If not, look into implementing one. Carry your own reusable utensils and ask your waiter or waitress not to put a straw in your drink. Choosing to live an eco friendly lifestyle does not have to be difficult.