I was reading today that each child who brings a “brown-bag” lunch to school every day will generate 67 pounds of waste by the end of the school year. That’s 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for every average sized school. Many of us rely on plastic bags and water bottles for lunch storage, which contribute to the estimated 50,000 pieces of plastic per square mile in the world’s oceans. Holy Toledo, Batman! That's a lot of garbage!
So, what can you do to reduce waste? I can tell you what our family did. I made a commitment to try to use a more earth-friendly school lunch three years ago. It has worked out beautifully. My girls carry lunchboxes (really cute ones from Garnet Hill) and inside are aluminum water bottles (more about those later) and re-usable, plastic bento box lunch containers, and cute little cloth napkins I sewed up for them from some SFV fabric scraps.
Sadly, the re-usable bento boxes only lasted 3 years (tongue in cheek here, because really three years is a long time for them to have lasted! Yay earth!) and we are in the market for some new lunch solutions this year. The company that I bought the boxes from is no longer carrying them - I think the manufacturer actually discontinued them. Bummer. So, I researched a few options:
Amazon carries these animals - so stinkin' cute. I am seriously tempted.
Panda at Amazon
And, really, how can you not love that they also have a frog and a pig!
Frog at Amazon
Pig at Amazon
They are priced at $12.99 or all three for $38.89.
This is similar to what the girls are using now - a simple 2-tier box. Only ours are pink, with polka dots (of course). And, at $7.90, quite a bargain!
Simple 2-tier box at Amazon
Another option we have read about and are considering, is the Laptop Lunchbox.
They are pricier at $27.99, but three of the interior compartments come with lids, a pretty nifty feature. The drawback that I see here, and the one that has made me hesitate to buy them is that they are so much pricier. With the simple, inexpensive ones we have now, we own 6 of them - 2 per child. So, I don't have to wash them by hand, I can pop them in the dishwasher and use a different one the second day. By the third day, we have run the dishwasher and have clean ones again! I know that I can probably manage hand-washing them, but what a pain!
Moving on to water bottles. We have two sets. I think this is pretty important so when one of my children who shall remain nameless forgets her water bottle at school, AGAIN, we still have a spare to use for gymnastics or soccer practice, and to send to school the next day.
One set that we have came from Sweet Funky Vintage. We carry waterbottles from EmTanner Designs and Lima Bean Kids. Totally cute and perfectly personalized!
Lima Bean Kids Waterbottles are available at your local SFV trunk show, and soon will be available on our website.
The second set of waterbottles we have are Klean Kanteen waterbottles. We bought ours on sale from Pottery Barn Kids a few seasons ago. They still offer them, at $19, plus $7 for personalization. They are super durable and have great sports caps.
I mentioned earlier that I sewed up some re-usable cloth napkins for my girls from Sweet Funky Vintage fabric scraps. But, for those of you who don't sew or have access to re-purposed fabrics, you can purchase a fab set of 5 for $11.95 from Kathie at Lilypad Baby - she is super nice - tell her we sent you!
Now, hopefully, you have been inspired to dedicate yourself to packing "greener" lunches for your kids! For those of you who have decided to give it a try, we will give away a set of 5 re-usable Sweet Funky Vintage cloth napkins. Remember, we don't offer these for sale anywhere! So, enter and see if you win! To enter, post here what you are going to do (or are already doing) to have more earth-friendly school lunches. Giveaway will end midnight, Sunday 8/21/11. Share this giveaway on twitter and facebook for two additional entries. Please post separate comments for each entry. We will draw and post the winner here on our blog, Monday, 8/22/11.