From sandwich boxes, to crisps and napkins, British workers' 'lunch on the go' habit is generating 10.7 billion items of packaging waste annually, costing us £9.9 billion more than if we made our lunch at home. Is it possible to shift our lunchtime habits to cut plastic, eat more healthily and save money? We started by investigating what led 'grab and go' to become such a big part of lunch culture here in the UK.

What led the UK to a 'grab and go' lunch culture?

The #FoodSavvy Lunch Club

To trial ways to cut single-use plastic and food waste, we created the '#FoodSavvy Lunch Club' in collaboration with Norfolk Council and Suffolk Waste Partnership.

We challenged 50 employees in East Anglia, across Aviva, AXA, Environment Agency and BT to go for a month without using single use packaging at lunch time. Encouraging people to make their own lunch or take a container to their favourite lunchtime spots to save on plastic waste.

The Lunch Club cut single use plastic by 54%, food waste by 52%, 67% reported saving money and 75% said they were eating more healthily! So how did they do it?

Designed for workplaces, the #FoodSavvy Lunch Club has a recipe of:

  1. Tailored advice. Participants were given a #FoodSavvy Savings Guide, which provided them with the golden rules for reducing packaging and food waste.
  2. Delicious dishes. The Lunch Club followed a three-week meal plan packed with simple, healthy, sustainable meals and were challenged to make their own meals for the trial’s final week.
  3. Cooking with Emma. Chef Emma Crowhurst demonstrated to the employees how reducing food and single-use plastic waste by making your own lunch can make you healthier and save you money. 

Five East Anglian cafes and eateries, including the AXA staff canteen, also took part in a ‘Take Away, Give Back’ scheme, offering discounts to customers who bring their own container.

Set up a Lunch Club in your workplace

The difference made

On top of cutting plastic and food waste, and creating healthier lunches, the #FoodSavvy Lunch Club brought employees together, with people reporting they’ve started sharing food, as well as tips. The effects of the Lunch Club extend beyond the workplace, with people encouraging their families and friends to trial out alternatives to single-use plastic and to reduce their food waste with the #FoodSavvy Savings Guide. 

What a brilliant, thought provoking initiative. The #FoodSavvy Club really made me think hard about the food I waste and in particular the huge amount of plastic used in the food I buy and eat. I’ve made a number of small but really effective changes to the way I shop and carry food around that has significantly reduced my use of wasteful plastic. Why not join in and see what you can achieve.” - Dr Charles Beardall OBE, Environment Agency, Area Director, East Anglia 

 Read the full press release here. 

Get involved

As an individual:

  1. Download the guide of inspiration. Head to the #FoodSavvy website and download our #FoodSavvy Savings Guide and three week meal plan to see how you can save money by making your own lunch and reducing your food waste. 
  2. ‘Take Away, Give Back’ scheme near you. BYO Tupperware to your favourite cafés, they may even offer you a discount! Do you own an eatery or café? Encourage customers to bring their own Tupperware and containers by becoming a ‘Take Away, Give Back’ site today. Get in touch for art work and resources: [email protected] 

As a business:

  1. Run your own. Create a Lunch Club in your workplace and encourage your colleagues to reduce their single-use plastic and food waste by registering your interest with [email protected] 

Got any questions? Get in touch with us, we'd love to hear from you.