There has been a lot of emphasis on the quality of lunches provided by schools lately. School lunches tend to be nutritionless carb and sugar heavy without a lot of variety or fresh fruit and vegetable choices. Many parents prefer to pack a lunch for their children. Packing a lunch with healthy, fresh choices is a good thing to do, but packing a waste-free lunch makes it even better.
What’s a waste-free lunch? Also called a trashless lunch, it’s a lunch where all containers, utensils, and napkins are taken home to be washed and used again – not thrown in the trash after only one use. According to the Waste Free Lunches website, the average school-age child with a disposable lunch creates 67 pounds of waste a year. One average size elementary school can generate more than 18,000 pounds of trash a year.
How do you create a waste-free lunch? Here are some tips.
• Use a reusable lunchbox instead of disposable lunch bags. Laptop Lunches creates an entire waste-free lunch system that does not contain phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA) or lead. Another good lunchbox is Planet Box which creates a lunchbox that’s made of stainless steel that has built-in compartments for different foods. Any lunchbox will work for a waste-free lunch, but finding one that is made from non-toxic materials like these two examples is a good idea.
• Carry beverages in reusable bottles instead of throwaway juice boxes or pouches. Stainless steel bottles like the Klean Kanteen or BPA-free plastic bottles like the Nalgene brand are good choices. If you do choose a plastic bottle, make sure it is BPA-free.
• Pack foods in reusable containers. Zipper style baggies are convenient, but there are reusable alternatives to those baggies for snacks and sandwiches. Snack Taxis or the Wrap-n-Mat can take the place of the baggies. Any reusable containers, including butter tubs or deli containers, can help create a waste-free lunch.
• Finish off the waste-free lunch with reusable knives, forks and spoons and a cloth napkin.
Not only will a waste-free lunch save trash heading to the landfill, it will save you money. Individually wrapped snacks, individual beverages, and the disposable baggies that food is sent in cost more money than buying food in larger quantities or reusing a deli container.