Child eating watermelon outside
Child eating watermelon at event

Originally written by Meena Azzollini, expert with VeryWell Family

Packing a lunch for your child can be a struggle, so it is natural to want to make it as convenient as possible. That is where pre-packaged items can come in. They are easy to throw together and make one of the most time-consuming to-dos much easier.

The trade-off of that convenience, however, is that those packages can be harmful to the environment and contribute to landfill waste. It may sound counterintuitive but making sustainable choices does not have to add to the stress of packing lunch! It starts with getting the right materials in place.

Ahead are some simple changes parents can do to make packing a child's lunch more sustainable.

 

Use Reusable Storage Bags

Swap single-use plastic storage bags and for reusable, non-toxic sandwich and snack bags. You can find ones made from waxed fabric. These are often available in a variety of designs and colors that kids will love.

Another eco-friendly option to wrap lunchtime sandwiches is to use beeswax wraps instead of cling film. Beeswax wraps are made from fabric coated with beeswax, along with other ingredients, like jojoba oil and tree resin. These wraps are washable, reusable, and sustainable. You can also find them in a variety of designs and sizes. They can even be cut to any size to suit your needs. Beeswax wraps in particular allow you to package a sandwich, crackers, or even some fruits and veggies and keep them fresher for longer. This is because they have antimicrobial properties which prevent foodborne bacteria from spoiling the food.8

 

Buy Reusable Lunch Containers

Investing in a reusable toxin-free lunch container made from stainless-steel or food-safe bamboo—which is also fully compostable—is an eco-friendly alternative to plastic food containers. You can even use containers made from other non-toxic sustainable materials, such as durable hardwood, harvested wheat straw, and industrial scrap metal. These containers come in a range of styles and in different colors and sizes.

 

Get a Reusable Water Bottle

Instead of difficult-to-recycle juice cartons or pouches, or plastic water bottles, invest in a reusable water bottle for your child. They are made from materials like stainless steel, which can be rinsed and used every day. When packing lunch, you can fill the bottle with water or juice. And your child can refill the bottle as needed from water fountains at school.

 

Buy in Bulk

Buy products like crackers, cheese, cookies, dried fruits, juice, or yogurt in bulk rather than in individual containers. Not only is this a budget-friendly option, but it also reduces packaging waste from individually wrapped items. Then, pack the food in a bento-style lunch box, sustainable container, or reusable storage bag so that your child can eat how much they want and easily bring home whatever is unfinished.

 

Pack Seasonal Fruits and Veggies

Shopping seasonally means making the most of the produce that is grown during certain points in the year. Not only is this more cost-effective, but it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and uses less energy for artificial heating, lighting, and storage, which are associated with producing food out of its natural growing season. Studies also suggest that replacing red meat and dairy with chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet one day a week can be more effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions than buying locally sourced food.1011 Trying to pack a meatless meal once a week is a good place to start.

 

Compost Leftovers

Encourage your kids to bring leftovers (and any brown paper bags) home and add them to the compost pile. According to the EPA, food scraps and yard waste together make up over 30% of what we throw away and can be composted instead.12

There are many benefits to composting: It enriches soil, which helps plants grow, keeps plant disease and pests away, and reduces methane emissions from landfills.

 

Originally posted by VeryWell Family: https://www.verywellfamily.com/how-to-make-your-childs-packed-lunch-more-sustainable-5194064


About Feed the Children

At Feed the Children, we feed hungry kids. We envision a world where no child goes to bed hungry. In the U.S. and internationally, we are dedicated to helping families and communities achieve stable lives and to reducing the need for help tomorrow, while providing food and resources to help them today. We distribute product donations from corporate donors to local community partners, we provide support for teachers and students, and we mobilize resources quickly to aid recovery efforts when natural disasters strike. Internationally, we manage child-focused community development programs in 8 countries. We welcome partnerships because we know our work would not be possible without collaborative relationships.

Visit feedthechildren.org for more information.