Earth Day is right around the corner and each year, on April 22, the Earth Day Network organizes events “to broaden and diversify the environmental movement worldwide” and “to build a healthy, sustainable environment, address climate change, and protect the Earth for future generations.” This year, the theme is Environmental and Climate Literacy. There could be no better way to protect future generations than to instill the concept of sustainability in our children. And it starts with their lunches!
It’s time to ditch plastic, one-time use packaging and consider sustainability when we’re grocery shopping. Fifty percent of the plastic we use is used only once and then just thrown away. That plastic packaging contributes to the billions of pounds of plastic polluting our oceans. What a waste! Fortunately, I have five plastic-free and eco-friendly steps to make your children’s lunches green.
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1. Stainless Steel Lunch Boxes and Containers
Purchase a modern, plastic-free lunch box container for your little ones. Lunchbots makes bento box style stainless steel containers with one to five compartments. Klean Kanteen makes small cute little stainless steel containers. Instead of using plastic containers or plastic bags, pack lunch in these containers. The compartments in the bento boxes make it easy to combine lunch and snacks into one container.
2. Beeswax Sandwich Wraps
If you usually make sandwiches for your children, use beeswax sandwich wraps instead of the traditional tin/aluminum foil or plastic bags. These wraps last for about one year, so just one beeswax wrap eliminates 180 plastic bags or pieces of tin foil! Bee’s Wrap products are excellent.
3. Produce and Tote Bags
When you go to the supermarket for your weekly grocery shop, bring produce and tote bags to avoid using the one-time use plastic bags. Those single use bags contribute to the approximately 500 million plastic bags used annually and one million plus bags used every minute. If you forget your produce and/or tote bags at home, don’t worry! You can always just throw your fruits and vegetables into your cart loose. And remember to stock up on package-free, healthy snacks. Bananas, apples, and oranges are great snack options for both kids and adults and they have natural packaging protecting them.
4. Buy in Bulk
This is where your kids can find the fun in “going green.” Buying in bulk offers a package free way to stock up on staples. Bulk sections of supermarkets typically have nuts, granola, cereals, grains, dried fruit, and chocolate—the perfect items to make a killer snack mix. Have your kids pick out their favorite fruit, nuts, and granola and fill up your own containers/bags with those items. Then head to the kitchen to have them create their own personalized snack mix! Portion the mix out into your reusable containers. This is a great way to get your kids in the kitchen making green and healthy snacks to enjoy throughout the week.
5. Take Action
Many popular snacks for kids and adults are packaged in one-time use plastic. I cannot deny that this makes snacking and packing lunch more convenient. However, there are more ecofriendly packaging options that companies can use. How can you motivate companies to improve their packaging and environmental impact? ACT! Email your favorite companies to ask about their packaging and practices. Ask if they are considering package improvements and selling their products in bulk. The more the companies hear that consumers want ecofriendly practices, the more motivated they will be to make positive changes!