It's back to school time and in our article entitled Top 10 things to Green Your Back to School Shopping we totally skipped the most important way to reduce your kid's contribution to the landfill, lunchtime. School lunches are the most wasteful part of your child's day. From brown paper bags to plastic baggies to plastic straws to all that packaging for quick snacks, lunchtime has become an hour of waste. Here are some tips and products to help reduce all that single-use disposable waste in the lunch sack. (Hint: These aren't bad ideas for Mom and Dad too.)
- Let's start with how to carry the lunch. Having the kids pick out their favorite reusable method to tote lunch is the first step. It could be a soft bag, our favorite is Lunchskins, non-toxic, washable and BPA free. Don't be fooled by the knock-offs. They could be using BPA plastic. A hot lunchbag could be leaching chemicals on your kids food. But a soft bag isn't right for everyone. Lunch boxes are a great way for kids to express themselves. But you can also think outside the box. Get it? How about a small wicker picnic basket? Wicker is a natural, renewable resource and there is something quaint about a basket. Maybe for the older members of the family, this unusual choice could add a bit of style to lunch.
- Bags for sandwiches and snacks. Back to our favorite Lunchskins. When thinking lunches think fresh fruits like blueberries, blackberries and cut veggies. If the kids get chips great but buy in bulk and use the lunchskin bags to give them a portion for the day. The average number of days your child goes to school is 175 to 180. Do you really want to contribute 180 disposable plastic bags for each child? For one child, that means K-12, 2,340 bags over the school career and that's if you only use one disposable bag each day. Add more bags per lunch or more kids and yikes!
- Thermos/Water Bottle. We love Klean Kanteens, and they have a kid friendly line called Kid Kanteen. Insulated so they don't sweat and great for hot or cold these thermoses will make you a believer. Plus they can be used for water after lunch. Your kids will create muscle memory to remember to keep their water bottle with them. Mom or Dad, just say no to disposable single-use plastic water bottles.
- Bring your own straw. Americans use 500 million single use disposable plastic every single day...yep, every single day. We searched for juice box brands that didn't have straws. We couldn't find any. So we refer you back to number 3. Buy your juice in bulk and use the reusable thermos. You don't have to fill the thermos full with a beverage. Just fill it halfway and if your little one insists on a straw, then use a reusable one. We found these great ones on Amazon. Most importantly, they are BPA free. If you get motivated to stop plastic straw usage, then we invite you to check out the OneLessStraw.org campaign.
- No individually wrapped fruits and veggies in plastic. At some point, some manufacturer decided individually wrapped apples and cucumbers in particular were a good idea. This is a no brainer. Just skip the plastic.
If you want to see what kind of impact disposable plastic has on schools. Watch this video from our friends at Lunchskins.