By ecomom CoFounder Kimberly Danek Pinkson
A waste free lunch is a way to save money and reduce the amount of trash going in to landfills. Also referred to as a "reduced-waste", “litterless”, or “trash-free” lunch, a waste-free lunch eliminates any extra packaging or wrappers (e.g., plastic bags and plastic packaging) and minimizes food waste.
• A lunch packed with reusable items is typically 45% less expensive and contains 89% less waste than a lunch packed with single-use items.
• The average school-age child generates 67 pounds of garbage per year from disposable lunches, food waste, and packaging.
• Plastic bags take up to 1,000 years in a landfill to degrade and only 3-5% of plastics 4 are recycled.
To Pack A Waste Free Lunch:
• Avoid: Plastic disposable bags, pre-packaged snacks, disposable juice boxes, plastic bottles, cans, paper napkins, plastic forks, spoons, and serviceware.
• Totally avoid plastics labelled #3 (PVC), #6 (polystyrene), #7 (polycarbonate; bisphenol-A); Better options are #2, #4, or #5. Plastic #1, PET, used for plastic water bottles and intended for single use only, leaches chemicals when used repeatedly and under warner temperatures so it's best to avoid it whenever possible.
• To avoid packaging, all food and drinks can be packed in reusable containers within a reusable lunch bag or box, so that leftover food/drink can be consumed (or composted like we show in this video) later.
• Reusable glass, stainless steel, or organic material food containers.
• Reusable non-plastic canteens and sport bottles, lunch boxes
• Cloth napkins.
• Stainless steel, aluminum or bamboo forks, spoons and utensils.
(For more tips on building a waste free lunch, check out these tips from our friends at Healthy Child Healthy World.)