A more environmentally friendly disposable lunch box
NEWS / 2021-06-08 16:34
COVID-19 changed everything about education in 2020, right down to school lunches. Throughout the pandemic, public schools maintained vital food services by providing lunch pickups for at-risk students. Unfortunately, these bento lunches were all disposable packages and there was really no way around it. Many community organizations and daycare organizations faced a similar disposable packaging disaster. To improve safety, some schools and facilities require 100% disposable lunches. This protects children and staff from the coronavirus. This means no reusable lunch bags, water bottles, containers or utensils. Sadly, disposable products are now more popular than ever. We understand why. During a global pandemic, disposable products are a safe and convenient way to stay germ-free. When it comes to school lunches, kids tend to get messy. There's a lot of hand-to-mouth contact while eating, leaving a pile of germs and half-eaten food behind. It's easy for teachers to throw away each student's leftovers instead of throwing away germy lunch items and storing them until parents come to pick them up. We understand this, but we know there is a "greener" side to any situation. The impact of disposable lunches can be reduced.
While we hate the idea of disposable lunches, there are always ways to be more environmentally friendly. You can reduce the waste of disposable lunches and go green.
Start with the bag. If you can't use a lunch box, use your lunch bag wisely. Kraft paper bags are always a greener alternative to plastic grocery bags. Look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo and look for paper products that contain wood from FSC-certified forests or post-consumer recycled waste.
Fully packaged foods. If age-appropriate, package whole fruits that don't need packaging. Think apples, bananas, pears and oranges. Whatever trash is left behind, it's organic, unlike pre-packaged fruit cups that include plastic cups, lids and disposable spoons.
Wrap a sandwich. Use parchment or wax paper instead of traditional plastic sandwich bags. Both parchment and wax paper are biodegradable options that are better for the environment. See this tutorial on how to tightly wrap a sandwich for best results. If you're looking for something more convenient, you can look at pre-made paper sandwich bags.
Know what's recyclable. Does your school or child care center have any recycling programs? If so, make sure you know what is acceptable so you can choose to package acceptable foods. For example, all recycling programs accept canned beverages and plastic beverage bottles, while juice boxes may only be accepted in some programs.
Skip straws and utensils. Disposable plastics can take up to a thousand years to break down after 30 minutes or less of use. When appropriate, skip straws and choose snacks that don't require utensils. For example, choose a bag of applesauce or yogurt rather than a cup that requires an extra spoon.
Consider the contents. Complete the cycle by buying paper and plastic products made from recyclable materials.
Discover plastic alternatives. Look for organic and compostable options made from wood, plants or paper.
Keep buying in bulk. When you buy in bulk, you'll reduce packaging waste. Use the strategies listed above to package single-serving sizes of products you buy in bulk.