One of the best ways to pack a green lunch box is to replace disposable containers, wraps, and utensils with reusable alternatives.
Plus, when you use healthy kids’ school lunch box wares that are free of chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, you are making a healthier lunch for your child. And opting for reusable containers and cutlery is also a great way to save money. It’s a win-win for your child and the environment.
Here are some simple and easy tips for a healthy, money-saving and green lunch box.
1. Start with a stylish lunch box.
Rather than reaching for a paper bag, choose a lunch box or bag that can be reused every day. There are lots of cool options out there, and some are even made out of recycled materials. (Hint: Older grade-schoolers may prefer plain styles without cartoon characters or superheroes on them.)
You can choose from cute, colorful lunch bags such as those from Mimi the Sardine or Laptop Lunches Bento System.
Goodbyn lunchboxes are containers and lunchboxes all in one. They feature compartments that are sized just right for main lunch items such as sandwiches or pasta as well as smaller compartments for snacks such as crackers or fruit. They are free of BPA, lead, and phthalates and come in a variety of colors.
2. Use cloth napkins.
Yes, it means soaking some extra napkins in some Oxy Clean powder (which has been a lifesaver -- or shall I say a laundry-saver -- in my house many-a-times). But you have to do laundry anyway, and washing a few napkins is well worth the money you’ll save on paper napkins. Plus, let’s not forget that using less paper napkins is friendlier to our planet.
3. Choose reusable utensils.
You can cut significantly on the amount of plastic spoons and forks you use by simply packing reusable cutlery in your child’s school lunch box. Trudeau Corporation’s Fuel line of kids’ bowls, bottles, and utensils are BPA-free, colorful, and fun which make them perfect for green kids’ school lunch boxes.
4. Opt for stainless steel containers.
One way to be green and avoid chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates is by choosing stainless steel containers for kids’ school lunches. A couple of great options are lunch containers from LunchBots and Kids Konserve.
LunchBots stainless steel containers are lightweight, durable, and come in single or divided two-compartment versions. Best of all, they do not have worrisome BPA, phthalate, or other harmful chemicals found in many plastic products.
Kids Konserve Waste-Free Lunch Kits come with a washable lunch sack made out of recycled cotton, stainless steel containers, a stainless steel water bottle, a hand-washable food cozy (which can be used as a wrap or bag) and a washable, reusable napkin.
5. Ditch the plastic baggies.
Ever think about how many plastic bags you use for snacks and sandwiches? Going with reusable bags and containers is a much more eco-friendly -- and cheaper -- option.
One to try is ReUsies. These brilliant baggies are made of washable 100 percent cotton and lined with nylon and are free of BPA, phthalate, lead. They are the perfect size for a sandwich, crackers, fruit, and other lunch items. To clean, simply toss them in the washing machine or dishwasher or wash by hand.
Another brand of reusable sandwich keeper is Wrap-N-Mat. It’s basically a washable sheet that wraps up sandwiches and secures them with a Velcro fastener. Also BPA-, phthalate-, and lead-free.
6. Buy snacks in big bags.
Another great way to pack a more green school lunch box is by buying snacks such as pretzels and crackers in big bags rather than in small-sized packages. You can even do this with large tubs of yogurt, and make your own yogurt parfaits.
This way, you can cut down on the amount of packaging and dole out the amount of snack that’s perfect for you child rather than risk his not eating the entire pre-packaged bag. Bonus: When you buy in bulk, you save money as well because bulk bags are usually cheaper than snack-sized versions.
7. Choose reusable bottles.
Juice boxes and pouches may be convenient but have a couple of significant downsides. One, they add up to more waste and two, they cannot be watered down to reduce the amount of sugar kids ingest. As an alternative, try using refillable bottles to pack healthier beverages for your child such as water, milk, or diluted juice.
8. Pack organic.
Not only is going organic better for our planet, it’s good for your child’s health, too. Since organic fruits and veggies are often more expensive, you can try choosing organic versions of the so-called "dirty dozen" -- those fruits and vegetables that contain higher amounts of pesticides. You can also try hunting out farmer’s markets and buy locally-grown produce and other foods whenever possible.