Seven Steps to a Greener LunchIt is estimated that an average school-age child, using a typical disposable lunch, generates 67 pounds of waste per school year. That equals 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for an average-size elementary school. Much of the waste is generated by pre-packaged snacks, beverage containers and meal items wrapped in single use baggies, foil or waxed paper. Americans have become dependent on 100 calorie packs, individually packaged snack bars, treat, dried fruit, nuts, chips, popcorn, etc. In the fast paced world of mom (and dad) on the go, who can resist the grab and go convenience of these items. I know I do from time to time, my schedule almost demands it. However, the cost to our environment is not worth it. Landfills are overflowing with the trash generated from school lunches and snacks on the go. So this school year, I vow to do better, and I challenge you to do the same.
So where do we begin? Baby steps.
1. Buy snack products in bulk and portion them out into reusable food containers. You will use less and save money. Freeze what you are not going to use within the first few days to keep fresh.
2. Ask your child to bring home uneaten food. If you notice your five year old is only eating half a sandwich, only send half a sandwich.
3. Use stainless steel or wooden utensils. If this is too risky a proposition for your kids (like mine), start off with plastic and ask that they bring it home. Wash and reuse. When you are comfortable that they will come home with the real stuff, transition into it.
4. Invest in reusable food containers for both hot and cold foods. Nothing too expensive as kids tend to lose the tops often. You do want assorted sizes so that you can put raisins, chips, sandwiches, cut up fruits and salads in them.
5. Cook more, buy less. Plan meals for the week and stick to the plan the best you can. You will find that you will eat better and spend less money; maybe even enough to enjoy a meal out in a restaurant once per week…what a luxury!
6. Try to keep to the S.O.U.L foods: Seasonal, Organic (when you can), Unrefined and Local.
7. Send water in a BPA free reusable drink bottle and go without the juice box. It is healthier for both your children and the environment.
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