Back to School with Zero Waste: 6 Simple Tips for an Eco-Friendly Lunch Box
School isn’t just hard for our kids, it can also have a negative impact on the planet. Luckily embracing zero waste can make this school year different and eco-friendly! We cannot guarantee these tips will get your kids excited about going back to school but they'll help them be easier on the environment—and your wallet!
School is a time of year that's full of excitement for many kids. It also happens to be the one time during the calendar year when they're most likely to have contact with plastic, styrofoam and other non-recyclable materials. With this in mind, it may seem like a daunting task to try and get your children excited about going back to school while at the same time making it more environmentally friendly. But don't worry! We've compiled a list of simple tips for an eco-friendly school year that will hopefully make both you and your child happy--and help them become better stewards of our planet.
Create a Zero Waste Lunch Box
Lunch boxes are an excellent place to start when you begin thinking about how to reduce waste at school. Not only do they help your child be more eco-friendly, they also make their lunch more interesting and easy for them to eat. Here's are some of our favorite eco swaps for your children's lunchbox:
Straws are without a doubt one of the most wasteful items found in schools. They're extremely cheap, which means that for some reason they become everyone's first option when picking out drinking ware. Unfortunately straws are also made from plastic, which is both harmful to marine animals who often consume them and difficult to recycle because they always come with food or drink leftovers attached.
Replace it: Reusable bamboo or biodegradable drinking straws can be purchased at affordable prices and can help reduce the use of plastics! Since stainless steel straws are durable you only need one per child, while glass ones can be reused until broken (or until your child decides they want a new color). Both options are better for the planet than disposable plastics.
Try Beeswax Food Wraps instead of plastic cling wrap
Beeswax food wraps are a biodegradable alternative to cling wrap. Beeswax wraps are made from 100% natural beeswax. They are also free of PVC, BPA, phthalates and other toxins. When you're done with them you can compost them in your kitchen. Plastic cling wrap is difficult to recycle and may contain chemicals harmful to human health.
Replace it: The best option is to avoid cling wrap entirely and simply cover your sandwich in beeswax food wraps. They can be used over and over again until they start looking dirty or ripped—and even then they can still be composted!
An alternative to plastic utensils
Forks, knives, spoons—they all come from the same place: plastic. These plastics don't disintegrate quickly, which means that they'll stick around for a while unless they get burned or buried deep beneath the ground. Even when we do burn them they release.
Replace it: Wheat cutlery is a great alternative to plastic cutlery. They will readily break down in your compost if you compost at home, and you can even put them in your green bin when they do eventually break down.
Bring a Personal Reusable Water Bottle
It’s no secret that plastic bottles are terrible for the environment. They take up space in landfills, they pollute our oceans, and they are often not disposed of properly - all while leaching chemicals into the water or other beverages they contain.
Replace it: Instead of buying lots of plastic water bottles for school, it's much better to invest in a reusable bottle. This way your child can fill up their bottle throughout the day and reduce exposure to toxins such as bisphenol A (BPA), polycarbonate (#7) and phthalates (#3). Plus, when they're done with it they can reuse it at home for years! There is no need to buy disposable bottled water.
Snacks without plastic ziplock bags!
Plastic ziplock bags are a scourge on the earth. They're used in cafeterias, grocery stores and pretty much everywhere else to package food. Unfortunately these bags are extremely difficult to recycle, since they always come with food or drink leftovers attached—and they don't break down quickly in landfills either. They also release chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA), polycarbonate (#7) and phthalates (#3). These chemicals can leach into your food and drinks, which is not only bad for you but bad for the environment too!
Replace it: Silicone reusable snack bags are the new wave of food storage. They are made from silicone which means they are more likely to be biodegradable than other types of bags like plastic. If you choose not to use them for storing food, they can also be used as a dish cloth or pot holder.
Pack food using reusable silicone food bags
Silicone Stand Up Bags are a great alternative to plastic bags for any of your kitchen needs. These bags can be used as a food storage bag, a dish cloth, or a pot holder. That makes them versatile and easy to use. The silicone material is also biodegradable which means that you can feel good about the decision to buy these bags!
In today's society, it is important to be eco-friendly and sustainable. Thankfully there are many ways you can do this while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your children! Some of these tips include packing food in reusable silicone bags instead of plastic ziplock bags, bringing a personal reusable water bottle that can hold up during the day or choosing not to use any disposable products whatsoever. These simple steps will help reduce waste going into landfills and waterways--and since they're easy enough for kids too, what better way to get them excited about school? Let us know if you have found other (eco) friendly alternatives that work well with your family - we'd love to hear from you!