While I was homeschooled for most of my schooling, I did attend public school the first few years. I still remember lunch and all of the waste and at least at that time most kids had reusable lunch boxes. My mom did packed my lunches in mostly reusable containers but most didn’t.
The amount of waste created by school lunches is shocking, around 67 pounds per year, per child. That’s a lot of trash and a lot of wasted money. Buying plastic bags, paper napkins, single serving sized items, and all of the other disposable items really adds up in cost as well.
Another scary fact about packing lunches is that some of the products many people use contain harmful ingredients, possibly even lead. The good news is it isn’t that hard or time consuming to pack waste-free lunches. As with most things it’s just about getting into the habit and being organized. I’ve put together some of my favorite picks for waste-free lunches to help get you started.
Waste-Free Lunch Supplies
When looking at lunch boxes be sure to avoid PVC and look for one that is “phthalate-free.” PVC can contain harmful things like lead and phthalates which are endocrine disruptors.
Cloth napkins are a really easy switch. There are a ton of options out there. I recommend picking smaller ones for lunches so they don’t take up too much room.
Stainless steel and cloth are my favorite options for waste-free lunch food containers. Glass is great but heavy and of course breakable. Sticking with stainless steel or cloth is safer and lighter. It’s best to also avoid plastic, even BPA-free plastic. Plastic can contain endocrine disruptors and new research is showing that BPA-free plastic may not be better.
As with the food containers it’s best to avoid plastic and use stainless steel. You also want to avoid aluminum water bottles as they are often lined with a type of plastic.
These tips can also be used for adults. When my husband was a school teacher I packed his lunch each day in reusable containers. I also do the same for myself if I have a lunch meeting or some other time I need to pack a lunch. Many of the items are also great for taking snacks with you on road trips.
If you can’t do all of this at once, don’t feel bad, pick one or two items to buy at a time and just keep adding to your collection. Each little bit will add up and also start saving you money on the disposable items.
One of my favorite places to look for reusable items is ReuseIt. They have a great selection and good prices. You can also get cash back when you shop ReuseIt by using Ebates. If you haven’t signed up for Ebates it’s a free and easy to use cash back site. I’ve already gotten a couple of checks from them and love the site. An you get a free $10 gift card just for signing up and shopping at one of their participating sites.
I’d love to hear your tips if you pack waste-free lunches. Share in the comments below.