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Adopting low-waste lunch habits for the school year

A new school year often means an abrupt shift back into old routines. Getting everyone up early and off to school, rushing to sports practices or evening activities, and doing homework before bed can make convenience foods like chip bags, granola bars, and single-serving packages of fruits and veggies an appealing option. But all of that packaging adds up to a lot of waste. 

Buying food in bulk and repacking it into smaller serving sizes in reusable containers may seem like a lot of work, but it’s actually quite simple once you’ve made it a habit. Plus, it can prevent a lot of waste!

Follow these tips to reduce waste from school lunches and snacks. To make it a habit, commit to trying one or two of these for a month, then try to do more.

Plan ahead

  • Buy large containers of food like applesauce, raisins, chips and crackers and pack them into smaller, reusable containers. This will help you avoid single-serving packaging.
  • Prepare what you can for the week ahead of time, and get everyone involved. Kids can help you chop up their veggies or put their crackers in reusable containers.

Lunch bags and reusable containers

  • Use a sturdy lunch bag and reusable containers. Let your kids know from the beginning of the school year to keep those containers in their bag until they get home. Have your kids help pick out their bag and containers so they’re excited about their lunch.
  • Consider what your kids usually eat and what their school allows, and get containers that work for you. Do you want to use glass, metal or plastic? Do you need reusable sandwich and snack bags, or would small containers work better?

Water bottles and dinnerware

  • Remember the drinks! Put water and juice in refillable bottles.
  • Include reusable utensils that are sturdy and will last the whole year. You can buy a set or look for an all-in-one fork, spoon and knife.
  • Cloth napkins are often overlooked, but these are a great way for your child to clean themselves up when they are done.

Be creative and be sure to talk with your child about what works, or doesn’t, as the school year progresses to ensure they eat as much lunch as possible while preventing as much waste as they can!