As a nation we are fiercely loyal to our favourite lunch choices. While WFH changed our habits, the gradual return to ‘normal’ has got us falling back into the same grooves we all pledged to abandon 24 (how long?!) months ago.
Lunchtime is, for many, the work event of the day we look forward to the most but 1 in 3 office-workers choose to eat the same thing every day and have done so for on average four years!
The food we choose to eat, and the environmental impact of our choices, are one of the greatest opportunities we have to reduce our carbon footprint. Small changes can have a massive impact.
So, in true Giki style, we put your favourite lunches through our comprehensive carbon calculator and had our resident climate experts uncover their footprint to get you thinking about carbon next time you reach for your usual sarnie.
If you love a ham sarnie you are not alone. This is the most popular choice for many, but it comes at a carbon cost. Ham is one of the least climate-conscious choices you can make, at 606g of carbon per serving. Lots of us add cheese, but this then climbs to 782g.
If you can’t break the ham habit, then look out for the same offer in the organic range and reduce the number of pesticides used. If you’re hungry, swap the extra cheese for a nice, tasty low-carbon salad filling, or better yet, use a vegan alternative to the ham slice.
It’s number 2 in the nation’s heart but another one that is planetary-problematic. A tuna and mayo sarnie packs 653g of carbon per serving. You can cut this footprint by making sure your fish is sustainably sourced or one that is not being over-exploited.
While we’re on fish fillings, prawn sandwiches are one you might want to consider a treat rather than a lunch habit. They came top of our carbon calculations, with a whopping 1,307g of carbon per serving. If you do eat prawns, try to make sure that they are ASC certified.
A pasty for lunch is almost a religious ritual for some (spoiler alert – we love the crumbly delicacies too!), but one of the most popular fillings is also one of the most problematic. It may not surprise you that your Beef and Vegetable pasty has a high-impact score of 989g of carbon per serving.
If you can’t say no to pastry (let’s face it, why would you), then don’t worry as there are some nice little steps you can take to cut carbon. You’ll make an immediate impact by leaving the red-meat options behind and looking at chicken or vegetable-based fillings. At Giki HQ, our personal favourite is the award-winning Greggs vegan range.
Carrot and Coriander Soup
Our experts love soup for lunch. It’s warming, filling, and usually a very healthy choice. Compared to all but one on our list, it’s also planet-saving at just 360g of carbon per serving for carrot and coriander soup with a white roll. You can turbo-charge your impact by looking for an organic option and making sure any bread you’re dipping is palm-oil free.
Another super-option is a superfood salad! At just 392g of carbon per serving, this is a great sustainable option for your work lunch.
Make sure all your work isn’t undone and choose a product with recyclable packaging and double-check that what you’re eating is in season.
The ULTIMATE #thinkcarbon lunch is also the nation’s 4th favourite overall. Our experts have given this a zero rating, because if it was going to go into the bin, you’re already making planet-saving steps to reduce waste and over-consumption. If this is you, give yourself a pat on the back.
Our top steps for having a climate-conscious lunch are:
- Where possible, go organic. You’ll reduce the use of pesticides, and that helps pollinators. Bees are awesome.
- Check the labelling as you’ll cut more carbon if the produce is in-season.
- Consider meat and fish as a treat (or cut it entirely). If you are treating yourself, then look out for accreditations such as ASC or another label that identifies the produce as being responsibly sourced.
- If you’re buying on the go, then check that the packaging is recyclable.
- Make climatarian-style adds such as extra salad or mustard rather than more meat or cheese. Tofu and eggs make a great swap and are full of protein.
- Break the rut. With so many of us making the same meal choices, changing things up for a lower carbon option will help improve your health and help the planet.
- Portion power. If you’re making your own, we tend to load up on fillings. There are some easy swaps you can make, while still hunger-busting. Maybe, just use half a tin of tuna next time and add extra chickpeas, lentils or an egg if you’re hungry.
- Everyone loves a food share! Let us (and others) know how you get on by tagging #ThinkCarbon.
Has this article made you hungry to change your organisation? Giki Zero Pro is here to help you think carbon at work and home. If you want our support to pitch Giki to your C-suite or leadership team, get in touch.
How we calculated the carbon footprints of the UK’s favourite lunches
Giki uses a science-based method to estimate the carbon footprint of lunches and other items on Giki Zero. However, estimates are that until companies provide full details of ingredients and the carbon footprint of their products.
We analysed the ingredients and weights from supermarket websites in each lunch and used emissions factors from leading academic studies, including Poore and Nemecek.
|Beef and Vegetable Pasty||990g||442||2.2|
|Chicken and Bacon Baguette||985g||596||1.7|
|Ham and Cheese Sandwich||783g||419||1.9|
|Tuna Mayo Sandwich||653g||383||1.7|
|Spicy Chicken Wrap||627g||394||1.6|
|Ham and Tomato Sandwich||606g||466||1.3|
|Jacket Potato and Beans||421g||477||0.9|
|Egg Mayo Sandwich||385g||307||1.3|
|Carrot and Coriander Soup||360g||279||1.3|