Green tip for week #10 — Week of July 6, 2008

Bring your lunch

In trying to be “green” it is easy to get too focused on radical, expensive, or dramatic ways to reduce your environmental impact. At, we believe strongly in simplicity, and in offering not only the creative and more profound ideas, but also those that are inherently easy and practical. This week’s green idea is to bring your lunch with you to work/school/etc.

Many people already “brown bag” their lunch as part of their daily routine (we’ll talk more about the bag later), but if you’ve been in an urban or suburban area crowded with restaurants during the lunch hour lately, you are well aware of the fact that plenty of people choose eating out over bringing a lunch. For some, it’s an event; for others, it is daily routine. Either way, although the environmental impact of your choice to eat out for lunch is minimal in isolation, it is substantial in its cumulative effect.

Every lunch out involves the food getting to the restaurant, not to mention the energy resources expended by the restaurant and its staff getting the food to your plate. Then, you had to get there (sometimes eating lunch out requires a car, train, or taxi trip). Then, you rinse, wash, and repeat the cycle.

The simple practice of bringing your lunch with you can mean reducing fuel, energy, and transportation resources. As an added bonus, it will likely save you some cash (freeing up some extra room in your monthly budget).

We mentioned the term “brown bag” earlier. It should almost go without saying, but obviously using a brand new paper bag every day to bring your own lunch has its own environmental impact (paper production, transportation, waste), so it may be worth investing the $5 or $10 on a reusable lunch bag, pail or box. As with many of our ideas, there is some collateral benefit to this also, as your reusable container will be less likely to get soggy and drop your apple in the parking lot, and it will probably help keep your cold items cooler for longer.

For more weekly green tips, come back to and tell your friends and colleagues about the weekly green tips found at Please leave a comment, suggestion, or idea below.