Did you know that the average school generates as much as 20 tons of waste per year. Here are some easy, eco-friendly and economical tips to help you make your kids’ lunches a little “greener.”
Reuse Sandwich Bags According to the Natural Resources Defense Council it is safe to reuse plastic food-storage bags until they start to look “cloudy,” or they have held deli meat, mayonnaise, or things that easily spoil. Bags that have contained items like peanut butter sandwiches, blueberries, crackers or cookies are safe to reuse another day. The NRDC recommends you just wipe them out before reuse. Think of how much waste you’ll prevent even by reusing plastic bags just one time!
Ditch the Brown Bag You probably have already purchased a cute reusable lunch bag for your younger child, but if the older kids are giving you trouble, remind them that carrying a reusable lunch bag or box could prevent more than 50 pounds of waste over the course of the school year. Kids today are pretty passionate about the environment and tend to want to take better care of it than generations before them have, a philosophy worth encouraging.
Use Biodegradable or Bamboo Utensils Non-biodegradable plastic utensils may not seem to present a waste disposal problem, but Americans use an estimated 40 billion plastic utensils each year. Check out a biodegradable cutlery option like Nature Friendly that can be reused, and will breakdown in nature. Or try bamboo flatware, which is reusable and made from a highly renewable source. If it gets tossed by mistake, it won’t be lying around for a millennia.
Pack in Reusable Containers You might have heard about the Bento Box craze of packing lots of different lunch items in colorful little BPA-free plastic containers. There are a number of different options available with various numbers of compartments or individual containers. Whatever works best for your crew, you’re surely doing Mother Earth a favor.
Use Cloth or Eco-Friendly Napkins Cloth napkins are not just for formal dining anymore. Cloth napkins, even for school lunches, are becoming all the rage in response to our burgeoning waste crisis. There are brands made just for kids, like Fabkins or GingerPie, but if they are a little too pricy, a pack of cheap cotton bandanas works. Not a fan of washing fabric napkins? Opt for disposable napkins made from recycled paper.
Skip Juice Boxes and Bottled Drinks Disposable drink containers (think drink boxes) are among the sturdiest, most wasteful kinds of food packaging. Replace them with a reusable stainless-steel or BPA-free plastic drink container, which you can fill with your child’s drink of choice. Never reuse disposable plastic drink containers because they can breed bacteria.
Buy Snacks in Bulk If you know your child loves a certain kind of snack, buy it in bulk to reduce packaging and save money! Many snacks are available in bulk at wholesale clubs, big-box stores, and supermarkets. Buying snacks that aren’t individually wrapped (Goldfish, big boxes of cereal, and big containers of yogurt) let’s you divvy them up in your own portions in reusable snack containers.