A Greener School Lunch

It's back-to-school week here in Newton. Make the school year greener by packing eco-friendly lunches.

Well, the time is here. Summer is nearing an end and Newton schools are back in session this week. One way that you can make back-to-school a little greener is by making your kids’ lunches eco-friendly.

Packing your kids an eco-friendly lunch is easy and inexpensive. One of the most important things to do is to work on making a waste-free lunch.  

The first step is to ditch the brown bags and find a good lunchbox, which are easy to find. Make it fun by letting your kid pick out his or her own lunch box. For older kids who may not think lunch boxes are cool, reusable lunch sacks (like ones from Kids Konserve - which I love) or nondescript insulated lunch boxes (my personal favorite is the Lunchopolis collection). Both Kids Konserve and the Lunchopolis can be ordered online.  

Try hard to eliminate individually wrapped snacks. I know, they’re easy to just toss in a lunch box. It’s also getting difficult to find kid-friendly snacks that aren’t individually wrapped, even when shopping at Whole Foods Market. Consider making some of these items from scratch: Granola bars are very easy to make and you can even get the granola in bulk at Whole Foods, further cutting down your waste. If your kids like applesauce, it’s the perfect time of the year in New England to buy lots of fresh, local apples and make a pot of applesauce from scratch. Yogurt makers and fruit dehydrators are very popular and excellent ways to make homemade, healthy, waste-free snacks to throw in your kids’ lunchboxes.  

In addition to lunchboxes, look for reusable snack and sandwich containers. Ziplocs, sandwich baggies, and plastic wrap create too much hard-to-recycle trash. You can find reusable containers almost everywhere these days, such as CVS and Star Market. Most plastic items are currently free of BPA, but there are also many non-plastic options. Stainless steel is a fantastic plastic-free option and glass is an option for older kids.

Sandwich wraps are a good, reusable way to wrap up a sandwich. They’re easy to clean and take up less space than boxes. Wrap-A-Mats are very popular and you can find them at grocery stores around Newton and beyond. Most recently I saw them in the natural food section of Stop and Shop on Watertown Street.  

It’s also a good idea to eliminate juice boxes and single-use water bottles. Reusable drink containers are available at most stores. Stainless steel drink containers are particularly eco-friendly and durable for even little kids. I’m also a big fan of the good old fashioned Thermos. Growing up, my school lunch always contained orange juice in a Thermos! They come in all shapes and sizes and they are well-insulated, so they’re a a good addition to a waste-free lunch.  

Don’t forget to send your kids with reusable eating utensils and a cloth napkin, too!

Lastly, encourage your kids to bring home any waste that can’t be properly disposed of at school. Sandwich crusts, banana peels, apple cores are all things that can be brought home with and composted instead of thrown away at school.


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