Green Culture Inspiration - Lunch!
The average school-age child who packs a lunch for school generates 67 pounds of waste per school year. That works out to 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for just one average-size elementary school. What can families do to reduce that waste? Here are a few tips for packing a greener lunchbox this fall:
Pack stainless-steel utensils instead of using disposable plastic. Find some cheap-yet-sturdy flatware at a thrift store or yard sales for school lunch purposes, then you can pack forks and spoons without worrying about them getting lost.
Replace paper napkins with cloth ones. Pack one with lunch. Having two in your inventory means that when one is in the wash there is another one available. Having specific ‘lunch box’ napkins also means that students doesn’t have to dip into our family cloth napkin supply.
Use reusable drink containers instead of disposable juice boxes, juice pouches, cans, and plastic bottles. Invest in a couple of good stainless steel water bottles and use them only for water. They’ll be a lot easier to clean that way, and water is a healthier option than juice.
Avoid using plastic wraps, plastic bags, wax-paper bags, and aluminum foil — opt for bento boxes instead. Bentos can be anything from fancy containers you find at your local Japanese store to the resalable containers you find on your supermarket shelves. Get a couple of sandwich-sized ones, some larger ones for packing leftovers (get into the habit of packing lunches at the dinner table for the next day), and smaller snack-sized ones for packing dry snacks or cut fruit or berries.
Cut down on packaging waste by purchasing foods in larger containers that you can recycle at home rather than buying many smaller packaged products. You can buy larger big bags of nuts, trail mix, pretzels, dried fruit and other snacks and pack them in reusable snack-sized containers instead of buying pre-bagged snacks.
Choose lunch boxes or backpacks over paper or plastic bags. Lunch boxes are back with a vengeance. There are so many styles available now that your kid should have no trouble picking a lunch box that appeals to students. Be sure to check that your lunch box doesn’t contain lead.
Lastly, be sure to clearly label all lunch box items — napkins, bentos, water bottles and the lunch box itself so those items can be returned in case your little one misplaces it.
These tips apply to work lunches, too!