Is it possible to help employees change lunchtime habits to cut plastic use, eat more healthily and save money? This is the question Hubbub sought to answer working in partnership with Aviva, BT, Axa Insurance and the Environment Agency. The campaign is part of our #FoodSavvy campaign run in partnership with Norfolk and Suffolk Councils.

UK employees spend £13.6 billion on lunch on the go. As life gets busier it is a trend that continues to grow supported by an evolving food culture with ever more tempting places to eat. New research undertaken by Hubbub discovered that from sandwich boxes, to crisps and napkins, British workers on the go lunch habit is generating 10.7 billion items of packaging waste annually - that is 276 items per person much of which isn’t recycled or recyclable.

In an effort to help reduce plastic pollution and give employees healthier, cheaper alternatives Hubbub recruited 50 employees from the four participating organisations inviting them to join a #FoodSavvy Lunch Club, challenging them to change their lunchtime eating habits for a month.

Hubbub used a series of proven behaviour change techniques to encourage employees to make the change. We know that people are more likely to make a long-term change if they are part of a mutually supportive group which is why we created a lunch club encouraging people to share ideas and experiences. 

Change is more likely to occur if people can make easy alterations to daily habits. To help this happen Hubbub created a month long meal plan. Three weeks of recipes were offered built around using leftovers and buying versatile ingredients. The fourth week was left empty so that participants could experiment with their new found knowledge and skills. To support the meal planning a FoodSavvy savings guide provided tips on reducing food waste and alternative options for single-use plastic was created.

Previous Hubbub research has shown that a lack of skills hinders from people changing eating habits preferring to stick to the tried and tested. To overcome this barrier, we arranged lunchtime cooking demonstrations at the different workplaces. These demonstrated how to cook one of the recipes from the meal plan and shared ideas for creating healthier, cheaper lunches with less packaging.

Incentives to change were provided with local shops piloting a bring your own Tupperware scheme with discounts being offered for people who participated.

Results of the small-scale trial have proved highly encouraging. The majority of people wanted to participate because of a concern about plastic pollution followed by a desire to cut food waste. By the end of the month participants had reduced their use of plastic and amount of food waste by over a half. 67% of people felt they were eating more healthily and 75% had saved money on their lunches.

Is your workplace ready for the #FoodSavvy lunch club?

Hubbub is now inviting other businesses and employees to take part. Business can register their interest via [email protected].

Cafes and local businesses can also get in touch to join Take Away, Give Back and receive art work and resources to support customers to bring their own Tupperware. 

Beyond the workplace

Individuals can visit www.foodsavvy.org.uk to take this quiz and find tips on how to plan their lunch meals to save time, packaging and money.