Waste-free Lunches

In this house, we pack 20 lunches a week. That’s 4 lunches a day, every school day. It can get kind of boring. But when you hear that “an average a school-age child using a disposable lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year,” triple that, then add in an adult’s waste, you realize that’s a lot of unnecessary trash! So, we’ve been trying to reduce our lunch waste as much as possible. We’ve been composting, re-using water bottles to avoid BPA, and trying to limit things like ziplock bags and paper napkins. Despite these efforts, we still had a bit of waste and we knew it was adding up.

Really looking at the waste your family produces is kind of like writing down everything you spend money on in a week and then looking at it at the end of the week. It can be pretty shocking to tally up the incidentals and realize your retirement is actually going to magazines, Starbucks and vending machines. So, we set out to see just how much we could reduce our waste, and school lunches were a great place to start.

A few years ago I found a company called Laptop Lunches online and I immediately fell for their colorful, BPA free bento boxes for kids. This led me to follow the waste-free lunches movement, which also introduced me to the Ann Cooper, the Renegade Lunch Lady who was the Jamie Oliver of school lunches before Jamie Oliver.

This was a fantastic chain of events for me. I learned so much about school lunches, and nutrition and then food and frankenfoods during this time. If you are also interested in this kind of thing or if you have kids, I encourage you to check out all these pages and watch the TED videos of Jamie Oliver and Ann Cooper. You will not regret it.So, now we have Laptop Lunches for both the younger kids and I really enjoy using them.Unfortunately, at first the kids were not fans. They said they couldn’t open the box; they wanted their lunch to look like other kids’; even worse, they wanted to order their lunches. So, I gave them a lesson in box opening, talked to them about all the different foods they could eat and that they wouldn’t be stuck with peanut butter and jelly every day. I reassured them there was plenty of space for cookies.

Then I explained to them what happens to all the trash and where it goes and how it never goes away.

They were outraged!

It’s amazing how quickly children “get it” when it comes to protecting the earth. They don’t need science or pie charts or long documents of evidence or expert witnesses. You just tell them the bare minimum, the boring old facts about trash and suddenly they want to clean up streets, ban plastics and put litterbugs under citizen arrest. And my kids are no different.

Today they proudly toted their Laptop Lunches to school and came home with rave reviews. They ate everything provided, left no trace and told their friends the reason behind their colorful lunches. Waste free lunches. Kids are the best activists!

One thought on “Waste-free Lunches

  1. These are great lunch boxes! Kudos to you for explaining your reasoning to your kids to get them on board. You are a saint for trying to the right thing with 4 kids. I find it a job to do it with only one!

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