Over the last few months, the idea of using less single use plastic has become much more mainstream than it has been over recent years. We have people like Lizzie Car, the Meek Family, and of course, David Attenborough, to thank for that. I thought, therefore, that a gift guide dedicated to this important trend would be useful – a list of products and recommendations specific to cutting single use plastic.
There is no better time than the festive period to encourage loved ones to consider their impact on the environment. I mean, everything is so throw-away at this time of year, we have an excellent opportunity to make little changes. And in the spirit of every little counts, because the small things do matter and make a difference, I’ve chosen to concentrate all my suggestions on just one meal – lunch.
I reckon that lunchtime provides the biggest – and probably easiest – opportunity to cut down on single use plastic. Whether it’s all the packaging associated with a sandwich meal deal from Boots or a grab and go lunch from a chain coffee store, there is just so much plastic (and plastic coasted card) we then chuck away. So here I have a whole host of products that can help you stop with all that, containers and implements that can be used again and again for lunchtime provisions. Naturally, all of these require some forward planning, preparing your own food at home is time consuming, meaning that eliminating single use plastic is not an easy feat by any means. But at least if you have the equipment, and it’s nice stuff, that’s one less excuse.
Gift Ideas to Cut Lunchtime Plastic
01. Spork or Long Handled Spoon
Never pick up a plastic fork or spoon from a lunch stop again by getting a spork and keeping it in your bag. I recently swapped my old spork for this long handled metal Lhfoon by Alpkit (what a great name!), a fabulous lightweight and simple bit of kit that means I can get to the bottom of food packets without getting my fingers covered in food.
If you prefer, grab a Light My Fire Spork in a case – they come in loads of colours so you could get one for every member of your family and never have a reason to pick up a plastic fork or spoon again.
Prefer using chopsticks to eat your food, or would rather not have the single use ones given out at most Chinese restaurants? You can get metal reusable ones of those too. These were a gift from a friend, but you can find them on Amazon or at your local Chinese supermarket.
03. Cutlery Set
Not keen on a spork or do your lunchtime eating where it’s easier and more convenient to use individual cutlery? I was gifted this Joseph and Joseph Go Eat cutlery set (silverware for my American Friends) by a good friend and it now lives in my desk drawer at work – it’s just perfect for travel, too. You get a knife, fork and spoon in a handy silicone carry case – perfect.
04. Metal Straw
A whole host of coffee shops and pubs have stopped giving out straws now, which is great to see, but what do you do to avoid getting ice up your nose?! As with your spork, start carrying a metal straw with you. These ones from Klean Kanteen have a silicone tip which makes them very comfortable to drink from. You can also get a lid with a straw hole for the Klean Kanteen tumbler (below) so you can have your frappes and iced coffees in your own cup now, too.
05. Travel Mug
I think we’re all on the reusable coffee cup band wagon these days, but by way of keeping this gift guide complete, here are a couple of suggestions if you are looking to purchase one for yourself or a friend. I absolutely love my Klean Kanteen tumbler, it’s just brilliant – coffee cup shaped, nice to hold, and insulated. If you’d rather have a cup that doesn’t spill (the Klean Kanteen has a hole in the top to drink from), then the Boden Travel Mug is a great alternative with much less risk.
06. Lunch Box
One of the easiest ways to cut down on single use plastic after coffee cups is to stop buying pre-packed lunches from Boots and similar shops, and start taking your own to work. It’ll also save you the pennies. I’m not amazingly good at this, but I’m getting better. You’ll need a lunch box. I’ve had one of these SIGG tins for years and years – they look great, work brilliantly, and would make a really fantastic gift for someone.
I’ve just replaced mine with a new one after my old one got so dented it no longer closes properly (still works for snacks or sandwiches inside something else, but no good for “loose” food such as salads). The new ones come with a silicone insert that goes in the microwave and dishwasher, which is brilliant for taking leftover dinners to work for lunch. Can you actually beat leftovers for lunch?! I don’t think so!
07. Hot Food Cannister
Or, if you or your loved one don’t have the facilities to reheat food at lunch time – whether work doesn’t provide a microwave or you are going to be outdoors all day hiking or similar, then how about taking your food with you already hot? This SIGG food cannister (it’s the 300ml version, there’s also a 500ml version if you’re a hungry person) keeps food hot for 7 hours or cold for 14 hours.
Klean Kanteen also makes one that looks really decent, but I went for the SIGG as it has a handle. It is so useful for day hikes and winter picnics and is an excellent addition to anyone’s low-plastic lunchtime kit.
08. Reusable Water Bottle
One of the simplest ways to reduce plastic consumption is to always carry a reusable water bottle with you. There are literally thousands of these things on the market now, with all kinds of features and made from all kinds of materials.
I have a cupboard full in all different sizes and with different types of lids. If you are giving one as a gift this Christmas or for another occasion, I would lean towards the classic SIGG, Klean Kanteen (the massive one pictured is the 40oz), Hydroflask, but there are lots of others to choose from.
09. Enamel Mug
Finally, if the person you are buying a present for loves to be outdoors and make fresh tea or coffee while out and about, then a damage-proof enamel or tin mug would make a great gift. I love my Ordnance Survey GetOutside mug for obvious reasons, but there are so many to choose from – like china mugs, you can get just the right one to match the person you are buying for. This is the other one pictured.
Oh, and as a final suggestion or recommendation (not pictured) – if you are worried about putting dirty or potentially damp cutlery, food canisters or coffee cups back in your bag when you’re done with them, simply carry a dry bag or two with you. They roll up very small until needed, keep everything on the inside from getting outside, and are easily rinsed out and dried off should they get dirty. Sorted.
So there you have it, my gift suggestions to help curb the lunchtime plastic. Let me and other readers know in the comments below what other products you suggest to help keep lunchtime single use plastic at a minimum.
You’ll find more suggestions over on my Gift Guide for Outdoor Lovers, and some additional ideas for reducing plastic over here.
Note that some (but not all) of the items in this post have been gifted to me by brands over the years, but all come recommended from me to you. You will also find some affiliate links on this page, but you can easily search for the items in your browser if you prefer not to use those.