Company Culture

8 Ways to Go Green with Office Lunches


Written by Riley Fairchild • November 30, 2022

8 Ways to Go Green with Office Lunches

Have you ever bought a package of cookies, only to find out that each individual cookie comes in its own wrapping? By the time that you satiate your hunger, you’re left with a mountain of unrecyclable plastic wrappers.

Food products are notorious for being bad for the environment - sometimes, the food itself can be unsustainably sourced. Other times, the packaging is the culprit. If you’re trying to go green with your office lunches, we have eight tips for you so you can ensure that you’re doing your part to protect our environment.

1. Stock bottled condiments

Can you think of a better pair than ketchup and french fries? Or a greater disaster when the guac-to-chip ratio isn’t perfect? While many meals come with single-sized condiments, it creates less waste when you buy a full-sized condiment like a bottle of ketchup or a jar of pickles to have on hand. If your office kitchen has space in its refrigerator for condiments, try stocking them for all colleagues to use. This way, your colleagues can decide how much of a condiment they need, which leads to less food waste. There will also be fewer single-size condiments whose packages end up in the garbage.

2. Have washable plates and silverware on hand

If your office kitchen has space to keep plates and silverware, having reusable kitchenware means less waste. You might stock six or seven plates, a few bowls, and a dozen or so coffee mugs that anyone can use, wash, and return to the cupboard. Having washable plates and silverware accessible for everyone leads to a greener way of having lunch, without paper or plastic kitchenware going into the trash can.

3. Encourage water bottles

There’s something so satisfying about getting cold water out of a watercooler after a long period of stationary work. Also satisfying? Reducing the number of cups that end up in the trash. Encourage your teammates to bring their own water bottles so that your office doesn’t have to go through stacks of disposable cups. True, paper or plastic cups are often recyclable - but it’s best to not even have to involve recycling if you can avoid it altogether.

4. Order buffet-style

When you’re ordering for the office, order your food buffet-style so that there’s less packaging that ends up in your garbage. When you order this way, people in your office can pick how much food they want, serve themselves accordingly, and avoid the food waste that tends to happen when you order individual portions. You’ll also avoid the layers of plastic cling wrap or plastic coverings that generally house individually-packaged meals

5. Source local food

CaterCow partners with local restaurants to provide meals without a large carbon footprint. Sometimes, the foods that we eat were grown thousands of miles away, meaning high transportation mileage that requires gas. Even when they make it to a restaurant, if the food has to travel across town to get to you, it’s adding miles to its footprint. When you order office meals through CaterCow, you can see what restaurants are within blocks of you. You can even filter the restaurant directory by delivery radius for hyper-local food choices.

6. Go meatless

Going meatless means non-participation in harmful farming practices. You’ve likely heard of factory farming and the terrible conditions that many chickens, pigs, or cows endure only to become our dinner. Not only are there concerns about animal welfare, these factory farms also emit dangerous waste products and gasses that can harm our environment.

Try ordering vegetarian or vegan options when you are catering for the office. There are plenty of delicious meals out there and if you explain your mission to your colleagues, they might not even notice that their lunch is meatless!

7. Reduce food waste

As much as you can, try to reduce the amount of food waste created by your office meals. You might consider the portion sizes necessary to feed your team, without inflating the number of dishes “just in case.” Encourage your colleagues to take food home when there’s extra, reducing the amount that ends up in the garbage. If you have the space in your kitchen, try implementing a compost bin for any food scraps that are leftover after a meal - this could even be a great way to get the individuals in your company involved in other green initiatives!

8. Support sustainable caterers

Partnering with a caterer that values sustainability is a great way to support the cause. By supporting a business that aims to reduce their footprint, you’re putting your money where your mouth is when it comes to going green.

It can take a lot of hard work to make change within an office, especially when it comes to something as traditional as the office lunch. When you start moving towards greener catering practices, you’re contributing to a cultural shift away from high amounts of waste and towards a sustainable, healthier environment.

Not sure if a caterer is promoting sustainability? Reach out to the CaterCow team via phone or email and we'll be able to fill you in. :)