A typical child’s school lunch often includes a copious amount of paper and plastic waste. The biggest offenders are juice boxes, paper napkins, plastic baggies and plastic cutlery. All of which end up in landfills (unless, your child is very conscious of their trash and your school has an amazing recycling program, that is).
Luckily for the rest of us, there are many easy (and, inexpensive) ways to Go Green with your lunch. Here are 7 tips for packing an eco-friendly lunch:
1. Lunch Boxes/Bags: Rather than use paper bags that get thrown in the trash each day, send your child off to school with a reusable lunch box or bag. Keeping with the eco-friendly theme, avoid bags and boxes that include lead, vinyl and PVC. There are a variety of cloth lunch bags and eco-friendly lunch boxes available on the market. Check out this website for some inexpensive options. Amazon also has some cute eco-friendly options available and box stores like Walmart and Target also carry a wide range of lunch boxes and reusable bags.
2. Sandwich Wrappers: Instead of putting sandwiches in a plastic baggie, invest in a reusable sandwich wrapper or container. There is a variety of options available cropping up in box stores and at the grocery store. Reusable sandwich wrappers are also available online. If you are handy with a sewing machine, you could even make your own!
Imagine how much waste (not to mention money, in the long run) you will save by eliminating baggies?
3. Avoid Individual Prepackaged Food and Snacks: Buying those cute little individual snack packs may seem convenient and perfect to toss in the kids’ lunch, but they also create a lot of waste (and, cost more). Instead, invest in reusable snack-size containers, which can be used for a variety of items from pretzels to cut up fruit! This way, you can also save money by buying snacks in bulk. Remember to look for food safe containers that are lead, PVC and BPA free.
4. Switch to Cloth: Do you pack a paper napkin in your child’s lunchbox each day? Try switching to a cloth napkin to cut down on waste. They're probably sitting in your dining room hutch not being used anyway!
5. Invest in a Thermos: Got leftovers? Don’t throw them out! Send them to school for lunch in a thermos! A thermos is also a great way to send hot meals like soup during the wintertime months. Don’t forget to pack silverware (you might want to use your old day to day silverware and not grandma's antique real silver).
6. Buy a Good Juice Bottle: Rather than waste your money and add to landfills with all those juice boxes, send your child to school with a stainless steal bottle (or BPA-free plastic bottle) filled with juice or water from a larger bottle at home.
7. Reminder: Remind your child NOT to throw out the reusable items you send in for lunch! Have them just repack everything back in his/her lunch bag to bring back home.
A final note on packing an eco-friendly lunch: as much as we try to , we can’t be perfect every time, but if you incorporate just a couple small changes here and there, it will begin to add up to make a big difference!
And, who knows, once you start incorporating a few small things, you might start adding more and more into your daily life so it becomes second nature to Go Green!