At my children’s school there has been so much talk recently about how to reduce lunch time trash in the cafeteria. In keeping with my early pledge to be at least “light” green, I’ve come up with some simple changes that families can implement to at least make a small dent in that mountain of empty juice boxes and plastic bags! And if any of the adults in your family pack a lunch, these ideas will work for them too!
This is a fun and simple first step! Have your children choose a lunch box that they love and will want to carry every day. For some terrific suggestions, take a look at “On Trend Lunch Boxes, 2011” and if you’re shopping for yourself, I really like this personalized cooler tote at Too Chic Boutique.
Reduce Your What’s Thrown Away!
It’s been estimated that the average school age child generates 67 pounds of lunch time trash each year and so here’s where we can make some big changes! (wastefreelunches.org)
Skip the paper napkins and switch to cloth! At litterfreelunch.com, you’ll find 100% cotton napkins with colorful stitching around the hem that are available in a set of 5 for $16.99. Not only is this terrific for the environment, but cloth napkins in a crazy school cafeteria just sounds so very civilized! (cloth napkins pictured at top)
This is another area where trading aluminum foil and plastic bags can make a significant difference. Instead of wrapping each lunch item individually in foil or plastic, tuck food away in resusable plastic containers.
Laptop Lunches – Colorful sets of lead free plastic containers in a variety of shapes and sizes are part of a fabulous lunch time system at Laptop Lunches. Developed by two moms, (of course two moms would come up with this ingenious idea!) the system includes the containers as well as rectangular lunch boxes that can accommodate the containers, stainless steel utensils and a reusable water bottle. (laptoplunches, components sold individually and as sets)
Snack Clips – Another clever choice that offers both reusable food storage and the ability to keep food cool, is the Snack Clip by Fit & Fresh! In fun Sport or Princess designs, these four inch containers are sold individually and feature an ice pack that snaps into the lid. (pictured right)
Snack-Sack – Lastly, another product that will help to reduce the number of plastic baggies that we use in packing lunches is a double-layered cotton and nylon “Snack-Sack!” Snack-Sacks are sold in a variety of sizes and cute prints and can be hand or machine washed. (snackTAXI, Snack-Sack, $6 to $10)
Wrap -n-Mats – This also “mom-invented” product is a terrific alternative to packing a sandwich in a container. Wrap-n-Mats are crafted with two different materials – a lead free PVC lining and a colorful fabric exterior. When a sandwich is placed in the middle of the PVC side, the mat closes with Velcro tabs. When opened, the mat becomes a place mat and a clean eating surface! Wrap-n-Mats are hand wash/air dry and come in dozens of patterns for all ages. (wrap-n-mat, $4.99 to $6.50)
Juice Boxes and Water Bottles
Trade in juice boxes and pouches for resusable drink containers.
Laptop Lunches – At Laptop Lunches, a variety of bottles are readily available, including both plastic and stainless steel versions!
Klean Kanteen – Another excellent resource for stainless steel refillable bottles guaranteed to be light weight, non-toxic and non-odor absorbing. (Klean Kanteen, prices vary)
Stylish Water Bottles
For more of a fashion statement, check out these terrific and stylish water bottles:
Swoozies – This online retailer offers water bottles with dozens of designs for kids and adults, many which can be personalized with a name or monogram! (Swoozies, prices vary)
Wrapables* – I love this vintage William Morris patterned water bottle that makes even the simple water bottle sophisticated!
Uncommon Goods* – more terrific patterned water bottles are sold at Uncommon Goods:
- Map of the World
- Crisp White with a Peacock Feather
- Cream Parsley on Green
- Colorful Flowers on Black
Hog Wild Toys – The easy eco-friendly choice would be to add your own silverware, be it fork or spoon, right into your child’s lunch box. But, whenever I’ve done that in the past, I’ve held my breath and hoped that the “family silver (ha, ha)” came home at the end of the day and was not tossed in the trash! But at Hog Wild Toys, you can pick up a Beetle Spoon or Spork, with colorful wings that fold back to reveal the necessary eating utensil! These little guys are so cute that they will definitely not end up in the garbage! (Hog Wild Toys, $9.95 for spoon or fork)
Knowing that each day Americans throw out over 20,000,000 baggies alone should be enough to inspire us to alter the way we pack lunches for our children and ourselves! And in addition to achieving a higher “green” status, you’ll be saving money as well! It’s a win/win situation!
You may also enjoy:
- Backpack Bonanza
- On Trend Lunch Boxes, 2011
- Have a Fabulous First Day of School
- Let’s Talk About Halloween!