By Adrienne Suhm
- Ditch the plastic water bottles. It’s no secret that plastic bottles are made with chemicals that leach into the beverages they contain. These substances include additives such as lead, mercury, and known carcinogens that are linked to a variety of cancers, birth defects, and developmental problems. Additionally, more than 50 billion water bottles are used globally each year, and 80% of them are thrown directly in landfills after a single use. By contrast, a water decanter (coupled with a glass or reusable bottle) is a safe, sustainable, and classy addition to any desk space.
- Use real dishware. Plastic plates and bowls are just as dangerous as plastic bottles – when heated, they release cancer-causing carcinogens. Keeping a real plate and bowl for dining at work is not only safer, it feels fancier than eating from a disposable container. While reusable dishware does require washing, it is ultimately the healthier and more environmentally friendly option. We promise those leftover soba noodles from last night will feel less like an afterthought (and somehow more delicious) when eaten from real dishware instead of a plastic takeout container.
- Supply your own silverware. Only 5% of all plastic waste in the United States is recycled, and the materials plastic utensils are usually made of, such as polystyrene, are challenging to recycle. Furthermore, disposable utensils are often used only once or twice before ending up in landfills, creating unnecessary waste. Bring a set of reusable utensils to work and you’ll never have to worry about remembering plastic cutlery again.
- Pack a lunch. Meals prepared at home offer a more economical and healthy way to dine at work. A study conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that on average, individuals who ate at fast-food or full serve restaurants consumed an average of 200 extra calories per day than those who prepared their own meals. The group that dined out also consumed more sugar, salt, and saturated fat than their home-cooking counterparts, because restaurants and fast food chains typically add extra fats, oils, and sugars to boost flavor at the expense of a meal’s nutritional value. In addition, a packed lunch eliminates the waste created by plastic or Styrofoam takeout food containers and requires less energy and resources to cook than a restaurant meal.
- Put your filing cabinet to use. The top drawer of a filing cabinet makes a spacious storage unit for reusable plates, bowls, and cutlery as well as a variety of condiments. We recommend stocking simple salad dressing ingredients such as organic extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar as well as flavorful meal toppers like hot sauce, crackers, sea salt, and pepper.