Packing school lunches is probably not up there on any mom's favorite list of tasks, but bringing lunch from home (theirs and yours!) is healthier, cheaper, and can even be the green choice if you do it the right way.
The average school-age child will throw out 67 pounds of trash over the course of a year just from lunch alone. That is a lot of landfill. But there's a greener way. Check out the latest episode of Mom-Ed:Green Living (and our tips) after the jump so you can go from tons of waste to no waste with a few simple changes.
Buy or make a no-waste lunch sack instead of a brown paper bag. Some of the commercially available insulated lunch bags have lead or BPA in them; if you want to avoid that worry entirely, use an all-cloth bag or even make your own out of an old blanket. Simply thread a ribbon or cording around the edge and leave both ends long, tighten them up -- and voila, a pretty lunch sack for pennies that you can use again and again.
Say "no way" to individually wrapped items. Buy vegetables, fruit, and nuts in bulk and spend a little time on the weekends chopping them if necessary and portioning them into individual reusable containers. It's much cheaper and tastes better, too.
Get rid of those plastic lunch bags. You can buy leak-resistant reusable bags that can be washed and reused over and over, or you can even upcycle your own out of old fabric items. I also love these sandwich wraps, which would be pretty easy to make on your own.
Hit the yard sales. Instead of packing throwaway plastic utensils or discovering you have not a spoon to your name because your kids left them all at school, pick up flatware for cheap at yard sales and don't worry when your kids lose it.
Stock up on cloth napkins. You can find them on clearance pretty easily in stores when seasons change, or grab an inexpensive fabric remnant and make your own.
Find BPA-free reusable containers. You can go as fancy as those stainless steel bento lunchboxes or as simple as mason jars. The main thing is that they need to be something you can wash and use again and again.
Involve your kids. Explain to them why you are changing the way your family packs lunch. Also, involve them in the planning: when you're chopping veggies for the week, for example, ask them what they would like and have them help you portion it out and store it.
Check out the video for helpful tips and get a visual on the kinds of things you'll need.
Do you do a "green" lunch? What are your sanity-savers?
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Image via Rubbermaid Products/Flickr
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