Green Your Routine With Eco-Friendly School Lunches
With the school year back in full swing, parents across the country are getting back into the lunch-packing routine. This year, many of us are making it a goal to cut down on our environmental impact, and one of the easiest ways to do that is by adding some green to our kids’ packed school lunches.
Why the green focus?
Moms and dads around the world are educating new generations of eco-minded youngsters every day. The impacts of climate change, unethical growing and distribution practices, and chemical add-ons are everywhere–but they don’t have to be in your food.
Many families have trouble committing to a fully “green” lifestyle, especially because it can be tough to identify what fully “green” really is! By committing to greener school lunches, you’re taking steps toward reducing your family’s carbon footprint all while teaching your kids how to be more environmentally responsible.
Packaging is one of the biggest culprits for unnecessary waste on school grounds. How many pieces of single-use packaging are in a single school lunch? When you consider the sandwich bag, plastic wrap, juice pouches, straws, and cutlery, it all adds up into a stack of single-use plastic we would all be better off without.
Eco-friendly packaging is much more affordable today than it used to be, and the options are almost endless! One of the most convenient (and cutest) eco-friendly options out there is the “bento box.” Modeled after Japanese lunches, where each meal component is separated into its own small compartment, bento boxes use built-in or adjustable plastic dividers to divvy up your kids’ lunch containers. Now, instead of needing plastic wrap and sandwich baggies for your sandwich, veggie sticks, dip, and dessert, you’ve got one convenient (and reusable!) box that holds every piece without any messes or spills. Lunchtime prep can be easy and fun by just filling up the little boxes with whatever healthy foods you have on hand: veggies, fruit, nuts, crackers, berries, cheese, pasta, and more.
Here are some more easy swaps you can make in your kids’ lunch bags:
- Scrap the traditional “brown bag” or plastic bag. Have your kids pick out a fun (inexpensive) lunch box instead.
- Pack a hot lunch in a Thermos Funtainer or similar re-usable container that holds temperature for hot or cold foods.
- Why use a disposable plastic sandwich bag when there are so many new options? Try waxed fabric, a reusable plastic container, zip bag or fabric sandwich bags. (We’ve got a few shaped like dinosaurs!) These are great reusable snack bags by two+two.
- Instead of plastic wrap, try reusable wax paper, beeswax wraps, or cloth bowl covers.
- Tempted by those single-serving prepackaged snacks? Save money by buying one big box. Fill reusable containers like Tupperware, snap-tops, and preservation bags. Pediatricians recommend milk and water for kids, so skip the juice boxes altogether and pack some fruit in a reusable drink container. These now are available in all styles and keep drinks cold for long periods of time.
Eco-friendly food options
If you’re worried about the carbon footprint of the food your family eats, it may be helpful to take a few minutes to research where some of your most-used products come from.
For example, when foods are shipped over long distances, their environmental impact grows to include automobile emissions, packaging materials, and cost of labor. On the other hand, if you fill out your family’s meal plans with locally-grown meat and produce, you’re cutting down your carbon footprint — AND supporting your local community.
Another way to “greenify” your meals is by planning at least one or two vegetarian, vegan, or ethically-sourced meals each week. Some meat and dairy products tend to have more of an environmental impact than similar plant-based products. Plus, processed meats are often high in sodium, nitrates, and other additives.
When in doubt, it’s best to plan your meals around organic, locally-sourced, seasonal produce–and (when you can) supplement with ethical meat products grown responsibly and locally!
We all try to do our part to preserve the planet.
Your kids’ lunches are one small way you can help reduce your carbon footprint and teach your kids to be more environmentally conscious. With some preparation and imagination, your kids’ lunches can be delicious, nutritious, and green as can be! And hey, don’t let the kids have all the fun — you can green your lunches on the go too!
New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton pajamas and baby clothing. Learn more at newjammies.com.