Thursday, July 10, 2008

Brown Bagging It ...

If you don't already take your lunch with you to work, then it's something that you really, really should consider making a habit. Once you start I will promise you that you will wonder why you haven't been doing it for years! I know that you will get several things out of taking your lunch to work: the satisfaction of reducing the waste you send to the landfill, eating healthier (hopefully), and you will save money. How do I know these things you might ask? Because I bring my lunch to work with me almost everyday and I have experienced these results first hand.

First, lets look at how you will be reducing the amount of trash you send to the landfill. By bringing your lunch with you to work, you have the opportunity to have a waste free meal if you pack all your food is reusable containers and carry it all to work in a reusable lunch bag. Just take a moment and think about how much waste is produced when you're done with your value meal:
  • The cup, including the straw, the straw wrapper, and the lid
  • The bag
  • The napkins in the bag
  • The wrapper for your burger or the box for your nuggets
  • The container for your fries
  • Any little extras like ketchup packets or receipts
  • The wrapper from the toy (if you get a kid's meal), any instructions it comes with, and ultimately the toy itself when it breaks (they always do)
By taking the single, small step of bringing your lunch to work you will be practicing two out of the three R's: Reducing and Reusing. I spent a while looking around on the interenet to find products that are stylish, Earth friendly, and so easy to use that there could be no way that you avoid wanting to use them. These are my favorites:
  • I thought that this lunch bag from Built NY was super cute and functional (I'm thinking about getting the one that folds out into a place mat). How could you go wrong? I would also take some time to check out the Built website, their products are awesome.
  • These sandwich "baggies" aren't plastic! But they do just as good a job according to the reviews. Plus, they act as a plate too which would help cut down on the number of crumbs on your desk after you're done eating your sandwich.
  • If you are feeling crafty and want to creatively recycle some of the stuff in your home, consider making your own sandwich wrapper! I found these instructions for making your own. Here is the post where I got the link to the blog article.
Now, I don't want to make your stomach turn, but do you know what you're eating when you go to McDonald's? Do you understand just how many calories you are consuming in one single sitting when you have your double cheeseburger with large fries and large Coke? You might be shocked by the answer: Over half of your recommended calorie intake for an entire day. Not to mention the fact that while McDonald's has been talking about it, not all of their restaurants use trans-fat free oil to fry their french fries and so you could be getting about 7 grams of it every time you eat an entire serving of fries. Don't believe me? Check out the nutrition page and calorie calculator on the McDonald's website and see for yourself.

NOTE: But don't get me wrong, I eat at McDonald's every now and then and I am not fat or sick with a heart condition or at a greater risk for a heart attack (I hope) or anything. The name of the game when it comes to maintaining a healthy body weight and healthy eating habits is moderation. If you want it, don't make yourself go without it forever - that can sometimes lead to overeating in an effort to make up for whatever it is you're craving (believe me, I've done this before too). In fact, talking about McDonald's is really making me want some. I might go get some for lunch.

If my other two points had no effect on your desire to start brown bagging it at work, maybe my last point will. I want to give you a quick breakdown on how much money you could save if you didn't eat out for lunch everyday. Let's assume for a moment that you get a $5 meal at a fast food place everyday.
  • Lunches for one week means that you've spent $25
  • Lunches for one month means that you've spent $100
  • Lunches for one year means that you've spent $1,200
$1,200?! Just think of what you could do with that much money! You could go on a pretty sweet little vacation with your family or maybe just that special someone. Or you could pay off that credit card debt that just won't go away. That money could also equal 120 hours of babysitter pay (if they charge $10/hr) so that you can start dating your spouse again. Or you could start funding your retirement account. Or you could use it to help green up your house like installing solar panels on the roof or buying an energy efficient appliance to replace an old one. The possibilities are endless and just think that you could earn that much by getting up 10 minutes earlier and throwing together a salad or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

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