4 Tips for Waste-Free School Lunches

Abigail Blank - The Upside Blog | Vitacost.com/blog

by | Updated: December 6th, 2019 | Read time: 2 minutes

Packing a healthy lunch has become second nature for most of us these days. We know all the healthy swaps for old school standards and have gotten the hang of being allergy-conscious and considerate of the safety of others. Even meals served at many schools have returned to fresh cooked foods and local produce.

Now, many schools are instituting “trash-free” lunch policies. If your school has recently adopted a waste-free or reduced waste guidelines for packing lunches, here are four essential items for eco-friendly mid-day meals.

Child Eating Lunch Packed in Eco-Friendly Container | Vitacost.com/blog

Reusable lunch bag/box

Many of us grew up picking out a fantastic lunch box for each new year of school. That back-to-school shopping ritual hasn’t lost its charm. These days, lunch boxes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, often with built in ice packs or insulated to keep your kid’s lunch fresh and safe. Lunch boxes come in so many styles, colors, and themes that your child will be excited to bring their healthy homemade lunch every day.

Refillable water bottle

Only one out of every five plastic bottles of water purchased is recycled. That roughly translates to thirty-eight billion plastic water bottles that went into landfills, or worse, the ocean. By using a sturdy reusable water bottle, your child can have fresh, clean water with them all day without creating any waste at all. A good reusable water bottle can last years, even the duration of their years in school, if properly cared for (and if they don’t lose it). This is one of the most simple and cost effective ways to reduce the waste from your child’s lunch.

Cloth napkin

Modernity has created a generation of people who grew up with paper napkins and paper towels as an intrinsic part of households. Yet only a few generations earlier, cloth was the standard for household supplies like napkins, tablecloths, cleaning rags and more. More than a quarter of the waste in landfills is paper waste. Doing something as simple as switching over to cloth napkins can make a significant impact.

Reusable utensils

If you give your children utensils in their lunchbox, switch over from plastic disposable utensils to standard household utensils. If you’re afraid they will accidentally throw them away and ruin your matching set, swing by the local thrift store or antique mart where you can grab tons of reusable utensils for a very small monetary investment.

With these four simple changes to your lunch essentials, you will be well on your way to a waste-free lunch packing system. By reducing yoru plastic and paper waste, you’re not only making choices that are better for your child’s health and wellness, but better for the planet.

Editor’s note: For more tips and tricks for avoiding single-use items and reducing food waste, check out our Zero Hunger, Zero Waste initiative.