Lots of students and non-students face the reality that sets in between classes and on busy days as they run around in search of a quick bite to eat. More often than not, convenience trumps other concerns—specifically sustainability concerns. I, too, have fallen victim to the on-the-go-meal with paper plates, plastic silverware and single use water bottles more times than I would like to admit. But you don't have to choose between convenience and being a friend to the environment. By investing in a few reusable products like the one's I've listed below, your meal time can be both quick and sustainable.   

Reusable Silverware

Three utensils times three meals a day times millions of people equals a lot of plastic thrown away each day (with over 40 billion plastic utensils thrown away in the United States alone each year). Because plastic is persistent in the environment and can take upwards of 1,000 years to decompose, plastic utensils are accumulating in landfills and waterways. The Ocean Conservancy names cutlery as one of the most deadly threats to marine life—from seagulls to sea turtles. Reusable silverware can be found at a wide range of price points, but it can be as cheap as Bewbow's $9.99 bamboo cutlery set on Amazon. 

Beeswax Wraps

Say goodbye to the plastic wrap and hello to the sustainable beeswax wrap. Just like the single-use plastic utensils that litter the ocean and the land, plastic wrap does not biodegrade and poses a threat to both animal and human health. The company Bees Wrap, a Certified B Corporation, makes reusable wraps to replace plastic wrap and encourage sustainable practices when it comes to food. In addition to reducing plastic use, Bees Wrap emphasizes its sustainably-managed hives and recycled packaging. Not only are these wraps a friend to the environment, but they can also hold anything from sandwiches to fruit to crackers, so they are extremely convenient for my fellow lunch packers (and, to my lunch buyers or snackers: the Bees Wrap is great for packing snacks).

Glass Containers

vegetable, pepper, tomato, onion, meat
Christin Urso

Meal prepping is all the rage right now because it helps with planning healthy options, controlling portion sizes, and overall convenience. But what many meal prepping-foodies don't realize is that meal prepping your lunch and carrying it in a glass container or jar reduces waste. Cardboard, plastic, or (even worse) styrofoam containers that are discarded after a single use accounted for 29.9 percent of total municipal solid waste generation in 2017. Even though plastic containers can be recycled, they are often put into landfills because of remaining food residue. If you're down for helping the environment by packing your lunch in a glass container but don't know much about meal prep, Spoon has you covered

Silicone Snack Bags

With a silicone snack bag that is non-toxic, BPA free, and dishwasher, freezer, and microwave safe, you won't even miss your single-use plastic bags during on-the-go snack time. Plastic bags contain toxins like polychlorinated biphenyls and bisphenol A, which are leached into the environment while the plastic bag wastes away in a landfill. Both are harmful to humans, animals, and the environment. Not to mention that reusable snack bags are much sturdier than plastic bags, so you can be sure to avoid bag-ripping, snack-spilling emergencies. 

Reusable Straws

reusable straw, straw, Dairy Free, Vegan, oat milk, milk, mason jar
Laura Subiaur

Calling all Vsco girls: as much as we joke about reusable straws, plastic straws do pose a threat to marine life, especially sea turtles. Straws that get logged in the nasal cavity of a sea turtle or end up in its stomach can prevent breathing and proper digestion. In the U.S., we use almost 500 million straws everyday. Many restaurants and companies like Starbucks are taking steps to reduce straw use, including WashU. Straws are only available by request in Whispers and Cherry Tree, but, with a reusable straw, you won't even need to make that special request. 

Saving our planet is a daunting task, yet every little bit helps. Each plastic utensil, container, bag, or straw that is replaced with a reusable product is one less piece of plastic filling our landfills, polluting our waterways, and harming our health. Keep your day and our earth running smoothly by foregoing your plastics in favor of more sustainable options. Now, you can enjoy your meals without sacrificing the convenience.