Sunday, July 19, 2009

Waste Free Lunches

My guilty green conscience pricked up whenever I threw away plastic baggies and juice boxes from our bagged lunches. All that non-recyclable garbage, generated in one sitting! I knew there had to be a better way to serve my kids lunch on the go that didn't involve mostly pre-packaged items. But I also knew I couldn't afford hours of my time spent every day on such a task. Simple and Waste-free....could there be a solution? I'm happy to report that there are MANY solutions, and I'd like to share some that have worked for us.

Equipment: Avoiding plastic baggies, aluminum foil and prepackaged items were my primary concern. So the first step was to replace them. My kids love sandwiches and wraps, so we do lots of variations on these. The Wrap-N-Mat is a perfect solution to eliminating plastic baggies, and works well for other snacks as well. We also use our Laptop Lunch boxes with mini sandwiches & wraps. Our newest favorite lunch aid is the LunchBots. I love that there is no plastic at all in these, they are 100% stainless steel. This makes them very durable, and stylish enough for my husband to take to work without feeling like a school child!

What to Eat: Sandwiches are the easiest thing for me to pack. Along with this, I generally mix up some sort of almond/nut mix with popcorn & raisins. Carrot sticks, celery sticks & other veggies work well to pack for on the go lunches. Cut up fruit is easy and you can do it in bulk for the week. If you are using a Laptop Lunch, applesauce or yogurt can be made or bought in bulk and packaged without the waste. For more ideas visit:

It's all about habit. At first it will be an extra thing to think about that can be quite annoying. But after a week of consistent packing, you get more creative, and fall into a groove of things. The best part for us....our wallet is fatter! Stopping for a quick snack because I am caught unawares happens much less frequently. And DON'T FORGET YOUR WATER BOTTLES!! We refill ours whenever we see a water fountain so we don't get in a situation where we need a plastic water bottle. Having a lunch tote hanging by the back door is super convenient for me, I just throw our stuff in and grab it with my purse on the way out the door.

According to "It has been estimated that on average a school-age child using a disposable lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year. That equates to 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for just one average-size elementary school." More and more schools are switching to waste free lunches, a great step in the right direction. I hope to feature one of these schools in the future. Please share your successes or problems with packing a waste free lunch!


Green Bean said...

And here I was just planning my own "Waste Free Lunches" post! Yours is beautiful.

Green Fundraising Ideas said...

We love the Lunchbot and Laptop Lunch system. If everyone would invest in these alternatives to baggies, etc., they would actually save a lot of money each year. These things more than pay for themselves. We sell these through our fundraising programs and they are very popular!