Looks like it is back to school time for most kids. Gearing up for the new school year can be fun, green and litter-less. Small changes can have a huge impact on the environment while preparing your kids lunches daily. Switching to homemade snacks or the least packaged foods instead of pre-packaged ones and providing a reusable water bottle as an alternative to their plastic disposable counterpart can make a world of difference.
How to Pack and Create a Waste-Free Lunch
- Pick Your Food Containers There are so many food containers on the market today from plastic to glass to stainless. I am a big stainless fan for a multitude of reasons- they are light, durable and do not leach toxins into our foods especially warm ones. Who wants BPA with their pasta? Not me. Over at Mighty Nest, they have a nice array of stainless steel containers. To this date, I am biased to Lunchbots and Klean Kanteen. I was lucky enough to test out their small LunchBots dip condiment containers. Let me tell you, they are perfect for dips, dressing and trail-mix. I also tried their insulated Klean Kanteen canisters and they do a great job keeping your foods warms. I enjoyed the fact that both are light, sustainably made and almost plastic-free except for a small amount used to seal the containers.
- Pick Your Snack Packs Sometimes lugging around many containers is not an option. Therefore, there is always the possibility of small reusable “baggies” that are very lightweight. My bag of choice is from Eco-Ditty. They are made of organic cotton and sustainably made in the USA. There is no plastic liner like most reusable bags, so no plastic is touching your foods. Just a warning, since there is no plastic liner, I would suggest not using these bags as longterm storage for certain foods such as crackers as they may get stale or soft. They are great, however, for short term use like in a lunch. They are probably not the best for wet foods either but seems perfect for sandwiches.
- Pick Your Water/Juice Bottles Individual juice boxes and disposable water bottles are completely unnecessary and just plain wasteful. By purchasing reusable water bottles you can add a juice, smoothie or water to any lunch. I have both glass and stainless steel bottles at home. Personally, I would recommend stainless steel for school-age kids as glass can break and plastic bottles can leach into their water and beverages. Mighty Nest offers great kid-friendly stainless bottles that are small and compact. I am loving my new Klean Kanteen stainless steel bottle and have been using it every day since I received it in the mail. I can’t say enough about it. I especially love the bamboo screw top. Love.
- Don’t Forget Cloth Napkins and Reusable Cutlery Kids hands get dirty and sticky fast when eating, so make sure to have that cloth napkin handy for them to wipe up. Eating pasta at school has never tasted better with a reusable bamboo fork. Having reusable napkins and cutlery available to your kids will drastically help to reduce their waste and divert many plastic forks, spoons and disposable napkins form landfills.
- Pick Your Lunch Bag Now that all your containers and bags are picked, what will you pack your kids lunch in? Most lunch bags are laced with chemicals such as phthalates, PVC and BPA, which are unhealthy for our kids. Take a look at Mighty Nest and browse all the different styles of lunch bags. They have a bag for everyone’s taste from organic cotton to insulated bags and from over the shoulder to simple hand bags.
- Pick Your Food Filling your kids with all the right foods will help them power through their day. Try opting for fruits and vegetables, as well as protein and fiber-rich foods that will help to keep them on track all day.
- Buy in Bulk and Avoid Individual Packaging It is not always easy to avoid these types of foods, but reaching for prepackaged, individually packed foods is wasteful. By purchasing such foods as dried fruit and seeds etc. in bulk will be a great addition to your kids waste-free lunch. Look for snacks that have the least amount of packing, so you can just pop them in your reusable containers.
- Compost Get your kids involved and compost. Get them to bring home their banana peels, apple cores and sandwich leftovers. I know, I know this is not always possible and sometimes your kids will forget. But for the times they remember is a bonus. By teaching our kids to avoid throwing stuff in the trash, their composting ways will become second nature. On a side note, I am not sure if schools will get their panties in a bunch because kids are not throwing food away and keeping food. All you can do is try, right?
- Be creative Let your creative side flow. Cut up their sandwich in different shapes; add different colored fruit and veggies to brighten their day. How will you make your kid smile today?
What is your favorite waste-less item? Take a look at Mighty Nest and see all their options!.
Mighty Nest provided me with one Klean Kanteen water bottle, one Klean Kantean insulated canister, 3 small LunchBots condiment containers, one Wean Green square glass container and one Eco-Ditty snack bag.