Ask LH: Best Disposable Containers For Lunch Storage?

Hey Lifehacker, I work in the north-west on a fly-in, fly-out basis. For lunch, we pack plastic containers (the same kind you find in Chinese restaurants) from crib every morning. Some days I’ll use up to three. I’m at a relatively small camp that caters for about 200 people at any given time. That means, theoretically, our camp could be using 600 containers a day, 4200 a week, more than 120,000 a month, and over 1.5 million a year. That’s just for one camp. This seems like a waste. Assuming that re-usable lunch boxes are not an option, is there a more environmentally-friendly alternative to these containers that I could suggest to the camp managers? Thanks, Remote Lunches

Picture by Stephen Depolo

Dear Remote Lunches,

You’ve already identified and dismissed the option that I would otherwise initially have suggested: reusable containers that could get washed and sent back out over and over again. That said, I can imagine a couple of reasons why these might not work: a lack of water for washing them in remote areas, a high likelihood no-one will bother bringing them back.

The obvious area to pursue, then, is paper and cardboard. For something in a sandwich-like format, paper bags are hard to beat. The bigger challenge is if you’ve got foodstuffs that are designed to be eaten with a fork or a spoon. I have occasionally encountered cardboard containers that are substantial enough for (say) a stir-fry or fish and chips, but for other foodstuffs it gets trickier, and I’ve rarely done anything resembling work anywhere more remote than Townsville.

So I’ll open this out to the readers. Anyone else got suggestions for more environmentally friendly but still disposable containers for lunches? Share them in the comments.


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