Healthy School Lunches – Making Lunch Eco-Friendly

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 15,934
    Nutrition expert Beth Ann Bentley discusses ways to make your child’s lunch more ecofriendly.

    Beth Ann Bentley: Hi! I am Beth Ann Bentley from iLunchBox.

    com, talking to you about packing healthy lunches for kids.

    Now I am going to show you how to pack an eco-friendly lunch. It is estimated that the average school age child generates 67 pounds of lunch waste per year. That equates to about 18,760 pounds of lunch waste the average size elementary school. The cost is hefty to our environment but also to your wallet. The average disposable lunch that you see here costs just over $4 a day to assemble, with plastic baggies twice, chip bags, containers for snack bars, juice boxes, yogurt containers, apple sauce containers, plastic spoons, and forks, paper napkins. And did you know it takes one 15 year old tree to produce 700 lunch bags?

    So where do we begin? One simple tip is to buy all your snack foods in bulk and then use these simple reusable bags to fill them up with the chips or the popcorn, or crackers, they are even great for sandwiches, and then you can just pop them right into your child's lunchbox. Bring them back, they go in the washing machine, hang them out to dry. Super simple. Forget the paper and plastic and go with stainless steel utensils and cloth napkins. If your children are like mine, chances are they will lose the stainless steel utensils right away. So allow them to use the plastic and ask them to bring it home, rewash it, and use it again. Once they are comfortable, invest in stainless steel utensils and a great place to get them inexpensively is the consignment shops and goodwill stores.

    Next, reusable food containers for both hot and cold food, bags for chips and sandwiches, containers for yogurts and fruits and vegetables, or these great compartmental containers for an entire lunch.

    Next, ditch the juice box. Invest in reusable water bottles and stainless steel or BPA-free plastic.

    Another great idea are these preassembled lunchbox kits. This one from Easy Lunches has a divided food container, with a great fitting lid. Goes into this insulated lunchbox, with plenty of room for yogurt, apple, water, napkin and cutlery, and even an icepack. Lunch is ready to go.

    Another great kit is this one from Kids Konserve. An eco-friendly canvas bag, with stainless steel containers and tight fitting lids for your yogurts, fruits, or vegetables. A sandwich wrap that doubles as a placemat for your child once they are at school. It comes with a cloth napkin, and a stainless steel water bottle. Add some stainless steel utensils and a chip bag and package it up to go.

    Additional tips are cook more, buy less. You will save money by planning your meals ahead. Keep it to the sole foods, seasonal, organic, when you can, unrefined and local. And an added tip, ask your child to bring home their uneaten food, this way you know if your five year old child only eats half a sandwich, then send half a sandwich, you will waste less food.

    I hope these tips will make you think twice the next time you reach for a paper lunch bag or a prepackaged snack item.