It is estimated that each American child produces 67 pounds of lunch packaging waste each school year! That’s not being very eco-smart. Start the school year by helping your children put their “green” foot forward. Use packing their school lunch as a green lesson on the environmental 3 Rs- reduce, reuse, and recycle. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Ditch the single-use items. They’re easy, and may save a few minutes, but single-use paper bags, paper napkins, plastic baggies and cutlery, pre-packaged foods and juice boxes are wasteful. Their convenience comes at a high price. Not only does it cost more to buy them, but they are also clogging our landfills with toxic-emitting plastics.
- Buy in bulk –It’s easier to pack a more green school lunch by buying food items in big bags or tubs rather than those small-sized packages. This way, you can cut down on the amount of packaging as well as packing the amount that’s perfect for your child. Also bulk items are always less expensive than the individual packages.
- Be BPA-free. Some plastics are made with chemicals called phthalates or bisphenol A (BPA), which can leach from items such as food storage containers, plastic bottles, and sippy cups to name a few. They usually carry the numbers 3, 6 or 7 inside the recycling symbol. Scientists and doctors are learning more everyday about these chemicals and their health effects, especially on children. Learn more about choosing safer plastics with this guide.
- Pack Organic. Organic choices are good for your child’s health as well as the environment. Parents sometimes avoid choosing organics because they often cost a little more, but at a minimum, try choosing organic versions of the so-called "dirty dozen" -- those fruits and vegetables that contain higher amounts of pesticides. Shopping at farmer’s markets or grocery stores that buy locally-grown produce and other foods are also good green choices.
Here are more helpful tips to keep in mind when packing a lunch.
Mark your calendars for our upcoming Green Parenting 101 program on September 15 at 7 p.m.. Parent consultant Cecelia Ungari of the Green Mamas, will explain some of the latest information on everything from kids’ toys to the food we buy at our local grocery stores to help you determine what green choices you should be making to protect the health of your child and our environment.
Do you have a green tip to share about packing school lunches? Let us know here or on our Facebook page.