You would assume that the lunch provided at the 10th annual Sustainability Summit held in Milwaukee the first week in March would be earth friendly-- “sustainable”-- and you would be right.
The box lunch, which was included with the registration, was vegetarian (though not vegan, since it did include some dairy products), because vegetables use fewer resources to produce than meats do. There was a spinach wrap containing a salad of romaine, feta cheese and chopped grapes, a small serving of pasta salad, a large chocolate chip cookie, a small bag of potato chips, and-- depending on which box you happened to grab-- either a small cup of fruit salad or an apple.
There was also tomato basil soup with oyster crackers, and either lemonade or grape drink.
What made this lunch even more sustainable was its packaging. The box lunch was served in a pressed paper container (much like the material in Chinet paper plates), instead of the usual Styrofoam one. The soup was dished out into pressed paper bowls.
And when you had finished, you discovered that there were three recycling bins set up-- and virtually every part of the wrapping and serving material except for the plastic wrap on the cookie and the bag from the chips was recyclable in one of them. The pressed paper container and soup bowl, the plastic cups for the salad, the plastic cutlery-- all were listed on the top of the appropriate recycling receptacle.
The amount of actual waste sent to the landfill was minimal. Everything else could be composted or recycled, and if you threw it into the correct bin, it was. This was a valuable lesson: if a conference attended by hundreds of people in a public place can use minimal energy in preparing lunch for its attendees and generate minimal waste afterward, think of what you can do at home to save the planet.