The new trend is to “go green” and changing their daily habits to become more eco-friendly. This movement includes kids. A startling fact researched by the New York State Department of Conservation (http://www.dec.ny.gov) estimates that a child taking a disposable lunch to school will generate an average of 67 pounds of garbage per school year.
I make my kids’ lunches every day and am guilty of wasteful habits. I sometimes buy prepackaged snacks if they are on sale. I have also used plastic sandwich bags (that was before I became “Earth Friendly”). There are several ways to make eco-friendly lunches and snacks. Your lunch-making routine may take a few minutes longer, but it’s worth the time and you’ll be teaching your kids a valuable lesson at the same time.
When I was a kid, my mother packed my lunch in a paper bag. I always thought the bag would break, as the brown paper lunch bags are very thin. Nowadays, there is an abundant selection of character zippered lunch bags. Another option if you prefer a more sturdy bag than the kind found in the big box stores is to order one from Land’s End or L.L. Bean.
By not using plastic sandwich bags, you’re both saving yourself money and not contributing to the landfill waste. Those plastic bags are not recyclable. I now use a plastic re-usable sandwich container that can be washed each evening. My kids know that the containers are not garbage and they bring them home every night in the lunchboxes.
We also use plastic containers for snacks. Since I am trying not to buy the individually wrapped snacks, I fill the smaller snack containers with small portions of fresh fruit, carrots, crackers and organic cookies (Newman’s Own Organic Cookies are a family favorite). For an applesauce snack, I buy a big jar of it and spoon it into a smaller container.
Other changes in the routine include using real utensils instead of plastic, disposable ones. I also purchased 5 inexpensive cloth napkins for each child (one napkin for each day of the week) and had the kids paint them with fabric paint. This made them very special and we now send the cloth napkins to school instead of the paper ones.
Disposable juice and milk boxes are overpriced and many times, the kids don’t drink all of the liquid and the boxes are thrown out along with the drink. Rubbermaid now makes an 8 ounce plastic “juice box” which comes with a straw and a screw top lid. This can also be washed each night and you can use it for any drink the lids like.
I’m thrilled that my kids are now conscious of how to be a good eco-citizen. Maybe they’ll start a trend at school and other Moms will follow these ideas.