I was horrified when I finally came to the realization that I was unnecessarily contributing to our massive waste problem. One way I knew I could easily cut down waste is with the packing of school lunches! Packaging, plastic flatware, juice boxes, and other sundries are just naming a few. The amount of waste we are generating as a whole on a daily basis is concerning. So, I came up with 7 simple tips for packing a lunch bag with zero waste:
1. Bring back the old-fashioned lunchbox. Don’t use brown paper bags that get tossed each day. Use some kind of reusable container. These days, such containers are easy to find at your local retail store and online.
For older kids/adults I recommend the Yumbox Panino Leakproof Bento Lunch Box.
2. Reusable drink bottles help cut down on waste tremendously. From little water bottles to juice boxes, drinks can be a very wasteful item in a lunch box. Instead, invest in a stainless steel or safe plastic water bottle that can be used over and over. One option is the Bubba Flo Kids Water Bottle:
3. Thermoses should never have gone out of style! A thermos can be used many times over and keeps food either hot or cold. Get several sizes for your family’s lunches. The thermos stainless king is a fantastic option. It even includes a folding spoon!
4. Plastic flatware needs to go. Just pack a fork and spoon from your kitchen drawer, then bring them back and wash them. You can get compostable ones these days, however, I believe washable silverware is even better!
5. Paper napkins are also wasteful. Go for cloth napkins instead. Making cloth napkins is not hard, and buying them new or second-hand at a thrift stores is easy. Or there are these cute ones online- PICKmeUP reusable cotton napkins
6. Ditch the zip top sandwich bags. We have grown so conditioned to use these types of bags for everything from cut-up carrots to cheese sandwiches. However, reusable sandwich containers are easy to find and cheap to purchase, or you can simply use a flat food storage container for veggies, sandwiches, and other foods.
7. Make your own food as much as possible. Buying pre-made, pre-packaged lunch foods is not only unhealthy, all the packaging that goes into such foods is very wasteful. Make up a batch of potato salad and pack it in a thermos. Place salads in covered glass containers. Peanut butter, cheese and crackers can go in a flat food storage container. If your child likes pre-packaged cakes for dessert, send along a homemade cookie or cupcake in a food storage container. You can make a batch of these ahead and freeze them. Pack them in the morning while they are frozen and they will be ready to eat by lunch.
If you do not already, please adopt these simple tips to save waste. Mother Earth will thank you!