August 21, 2014

Zero Waste Kid Lunches

Today we have our first guest post at Zero Waste Mommy.  Anna Ruby and her husband create videos and podcasts for local businesses and non-profits in the lovely metropolis of Portland, OR.  Which is why I'm guessing they encountered Zero Waste-preschool administrators.  Yay progress!  Check out their work here:  moreleystudios.com  

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When my daughter started preschool four years ago, the parents were encouraged to pack "no waste" lunches, or lunches that do not generate any non-compostable garbage.  It took me a while to wrap my head around the idea, as I was a card-carrying member of our single-serving society.  A child's school lunch can create 67 pounds of trash each year, according to the EPA.¹  That's 4.6 billion pounds of lunch waste each year!

We can do better.

And, I promise, it is really quite simple to do:

  • Put food & drinks in reusable containers
  • Include reusable utensils and a cloth napkin
  • Pack it all in a reusable bag or box 

What do you pack in a reusable lunch box?  Whatever you want!  Keep it simple with a sandwich or send warm leftovers in a food jar (this one by Hydro Flask is THE.  BEST. at keeping food warm).




You will save money when you stop buying individually-packaged food such as cracker packs and yogurt cups.  WasteFreeLunches.org estimates you can save $250 per year, per person just by switching to waste-free lunches.  Simply buy the big box of crackers and put a few in a small container for lunch.  Or buy the big carton of yogurt and scoop some into a reusable container.  

There are also some super-cute one-piece lunch containers on the market such as the Goodbyn Bynto and the cute-as-a-puzzle Laptop Lunches if you are worried about losing pieces.   


If you don't want to spend a bunch of money on cute containers, you can always reuse empty food containers such as small jars or plastic containers.  I have an itty-bitty jar that once held jam but I've re-purposed it for fun stuff like baby pickles or chocolate chips.  If you're not worried about your child dropping glass, small canning jars are fantastic reusable lunch containers:  try freezing a smoothie in one the night before; it defrosts just in time for lunch!

Just think:  your kids are getting lessons on academics at school, but you're also throwing in a daily lesson on how to be a good steward of the earth.

Here are two great resources for launching a No-Waste Lunch program at your child's school:




¹ http://www.epa.gov/waste/education/pdfs/lunch.pdf

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