4 Steps to a ‘Greener’ School Lunch

by Dorothy Reinhold on September 6, 2011

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With school back in session, many campuses are making an attempt to go “greener” for lunch.

Do we need to have hundreds of little disposable plastic snack bags, sandwich bags and other trash filling our school trash cans each noon? Many communities, mine included, have passed bans on plastic grocery bags, and we shoppers have retrained ourselves to bring our own bags wherever we go. Honestly, it wasn’t hard. You just think ahead and grab your reusable grocery bags before you walk into the store. Done.

Can we make the same sorts of simple changes with our lunches? Is using a snack-size zipper-top plastic bag really the best way to employ our non-renewable fossil fuels? Is it the highest use to which our society can put dinosaurs?

Here is a flier I made for our elementary school, to encourage parents and students to eliminate all the disposables that we use in most lunches. The idea came from several parents at our school who formed a “Green Team” to institute a recycling program and look for ways we could become a greener school. Perhaps you want to do something like that?

Will some of these ideas work for your house, school or workplace?

Waste-Free Lunch!

Keep School ‘Green’   

Here’s how:

1.  Reusable drink canteen
(Example: instead of juice boxes or single-serving plastic bottles, get a large bottle of juice and fill your reusable drink container)

2. Reusable lunch box (no paper bags)

3. Instead of plastic sandwich or snack bags, use small plastic or metal reusable containers

4. Instead of buying individually prepackaged goods, get the big pack and portion it into reusable containers
(Example: instead of pre-packaged chip bags or carrot bags, buy a big bag and put a handful in a reusable container).

The only waste we should have after lunch is fruit cores and peels!

Need more ideas for keeping lunchboxes green? Heather at Celtic Mommy has a few!

apple core

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Connie Kaiser September 6, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Sandwiches in waxed paper or foil? I hate the idea of havng my kid bring stuff home to wash every day – – –????


Dorothy September 7, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I know, it adds another step to the lunch process (cleaning up when the lunchbox comes home), but I think the point is that we have “convenienced” ourselves into trouble. We so easily reach for disposable plastic bags, not seriously thinking about how they will be with us for thousands of years in our landfills, swirling in our oceans (if they escape the trash), etc. Something has to give! So sure, you could use foil or waxed paper, but both of those still generate trash that is then thrown away, which is what we’re trying to avoid. We all need to take a deep breath and just do the right thing, even if it means washing some containers when the lunchbox comes home. Right?


Connie Kaiser September 7, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Right. I thought about it afterwards. I’ll just hide the dirty tupperware at work in a cute re-usable lunch bag!


Sky September 8, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Thanks, D. for kicking my butt into gear for the Webster Green Team. We’re going to start Waste-Free Wednesdays at Webster! I’ll use the post you most conveniently supplied in your blog.


Dorothy September 8, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Love the idea of Waste-Free Wednesdays. I’m on board!


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