You’re bound to get a little peckish throughout the workday, but those trips to the vending machine for potato chips and candy harm more than just your summer diet. Americans produce more than 76 million tons of packaging waste every year, amounting to nearly 31 percent of our overall waste stream, according to the most recent EPA data available. And food packaging makes up a huge part of that.
Shrink your contribution to the packaging waste problem by packing your own snacks in reusable containers for work or school. As an added bonus, DIY snacks are also more cost-effective and help you ditch the high-calorie vending machine grub in favor of energy-boosting bites that are both good and good for you. To get you started, Earth911 rounded up these 10 low-waste, skinny-waist snacks that are bound to keep you and your footprint light.
Granola Bars recipe via The Daily Meal
What you’ll need:
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Chopped dried fruit – any combination of apricots, cherries or blueberries
How to make it: View full instructions and tips at The Daily Meal
Why it’s healthy: Rolled oats are perfect for curbing appetite and boosting energy when that mid-afternoon lull hits. Toss in ingredients like nuts, dried fruits and sunflower seeds to increase protein and fiber content and add vitamins and minerals like potassium, manganese and vitamins C and E.
Reinforcing your granola bars with wheat germ or protein powder increases health benefits – as both of these ingredients are packed with protein without adding many carbs or calories. Use the USDA’s National Nutrient Database to find out more about your ingredients, and customize your granola bars to suit your taste and dietary needs.
Cut back on waste: Individually-wrapped granola bars create loads of hard-to-recycle waste. Nix those food wrappers from your personal waste stream by making a large batch of bars and packing them in reusable containers for school, work or outdoor excursions.
To reduce waste even further, head to the bulk foods section to stock up on ingredients like rolled oats, sunflower seeds, nuts and dried fruits. And take a lesson from Béa Johnson, who helped her family go entirely zero-waste, by bringing your own bags, glass jars or reusable containers to the bulk-food aisle to eliminate the need for plastic grocery bags.