If you’re like most parents who pack a healthy lunch for their kids, you probably go through a stockpile of plastic baggies and other disposable packing items. This is not only hard on the environment, it can be tough on your wallet too. Many parents are making the shift to environmentally friendly lunchboxes and with minimal effort, you can too.
Over several generations, we seem to have made the shift to a completely disposable society. We buy bottled water, individually packaged items, disposable plastic containers, disposable cameras, and more. This practice appears to be catching up with us—our landfills are overflowing, and recent research even suggests that the materials in plastics are jeopardizing our health.
Thus, the pendulum is starting to swing back in a direction that would have been more familiar to our grandparents and great grandparents. Glass and stainless steel are making a comeback.
While disposable lunch bags seem easy—and we all like easy—they can be costly in the long run. A few minor changes can set you on the road to an eco-friendly lunchbox.
Reusable Containers and Utensils
Several companies are making lunchbox systems that are fun, easy to use, and good for the environment. (See below.) But, you don’t have to invest in an expensive, trendy lunchbox to embrace the eco-friendly habit. All it takes is a little creativity.
Invest in several small containers that can be solely dedicated to your child’s lunchbox. Of course, glass and stainless steel are safest, but also heavy and more expensive. There are many plastic containers that are considered safer than others, and if you’re not using the containers to heat food, they pose less of a risk. Use a permanent marker to write your child’s name on the bottom of each container.
Other reusable containers that are helpful include thermoses and stainless steel water bottles. If your child needs utensils for yogurt or soup, consider investing in a sturdy reusable utensil made of bamboo.
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Adopt New Habits
Most of our disposable habits are second-nature; we don’t even think about them. Do you throw an individual yogurt into your child’s lunch every day? Along with a plastic spoon? What about a bottle of water?
Small changes make a big difference. Instead of buying several small containers of yogurt, consider buying the large tub of yogurt and then spooning a small amount into your own reusable container. If you send your child to school with a plastic bottle of water each day, consider investing in a small stainless steel water bottle that they can refill each day. This will be better for their health and for the environment.
Be a Part of the Solution
Shifting from disposable to reusable will take a little more effort at first, but once you’ve formed a new habit, you’ll be pleased with the results.
Think of the benefits:
- It’s better for the environment.
- It’s better for your health.
- It’s better for your wallet.
- It will teach your child responsibility—both for the environment and for their belongings, since they will have to remember to bring home their lunchbox.
- It will allow you to pack different foods for your child, such as soup.
So, grab your kids and tell them that you have an important job for them—taking care of Mother Earth. They’ll be excited to learn how.
- PlanetBox makes stainless steel lunchboxes with separate compartments. www.planetbox.com
- LunchBots makes stainless steel containers that come in multiple sizes, with and without compartments. www.lunchbots.com
- LunchSense makes lunchbox systems that include multiple BPA-free plastic containers. www.lunchsense.com
- Laptop Lunches creates American-style Bento boxes, free of BPA. www.laptoplunches.com
- To-Go Ware makes a range of waste-free lunchbox options, including stainless steel Bento boxes and bamboo utensils. www.to-goware.com