Welcome back to another edition of The Plastic Purge!
It’s time to start thinking about back to school! College students, teachers, bus drivers, kids – it seems as if everyone is gearing up for this highly anticipated time of year.
This month, we are discussing ideas for providing lunches and snacks for your kids in school without using disposable plastic. Packing sustainable lunches with less one-use plastic is good for the environment and even more importantly it can save money in the long run!
Packing reduced-plastic lunches really comes down to containers- and luckily, there are lots of options! Kids often like lunches with a wide variety of small snacks, so here are some container options to consider: Some snacks can go into the lunch on their own. One way to be more sustainable is to send fruits like bananas, oranges, and apples that don’t really need to be packaged.
Some snacks aren’t too messy, but still need a wrapping. These are snacks you might typically put in a plastic bag. Instead, consider beeswax wraps. These are cotton wraps coated in wax, and can be used as a carrying container for sliced apples, carrots, crackers, and sandwiches. You can also pick up reusable sandwich or snack bags made of silicone, cloth, or more heavy duty plastic. These are all generally washable- some of the reusable bags can even run through the dishwasher. For dry snacks and sandwiches, look for paper sandwich bags in your grocery store as another, non-plastic but convenient alternative that is also compostable.
For leftovers, salads, or other more messy items, you can’t go wrong with reusable containers. There are a lot of great options for this depending on your needs and your budget. Reusable plastic, glass, and metal are all good options. It is worth considering whether the food will need to be heated when making that choice.
There are some containers that are already designed to be a lunch set. Bento boxes, originally from Japan, are a great alternative. These are a set of containers and spacers that all fit together with many different spaces for lunch goods and snacks. Additionally, you could go with a tiffin carrier. This is a set of pans, usually metal, that snap together and stack into a convenient carrying size. These might be a good option if you are looking to avoid plastic altogether.
Finally, the best thing to do once you have these containers is to buy things in bulk for lunches. Large sizes of nuts, applesauce, crackers, and other products can be cheaper in the long run and will typically have less of a packaging impact.
And don’t forget to have fun with it! Many containers and wraps have fun patterns, cute messages, or cool colors.
What are you doing to reduce your plastic impact in school lunches? Comment on our Facebook link at and let us know your strategies.