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Buh-Bye, Ziploc: Getting Your Child's Lunch Box to Zero-Waste

Lunch without the trash.

For the past two years my children have been given an annual Science Day challenge to bring a lunch to school that leaves zero-waste. The class that created the least amount of trash at the end of lunch won a prize, so the kids took it quite seriously– for the day. As their mom, I took it as a personal challenge to clean up the three lunch boxes I prepare daily and to see that the kids carry the ideal throughout the year.

As efforts to go green spread from the home to public initiatives, schools throughout the country are starting eco-friendly lunch policies to help reduce the amount of waste produced at lunch time. A little reading turned up the fact that the average kid can create up to 67 lbs of lunchtime waste a year, which is pretty scary when you think that they’ll be doing the school lunch routine for 13 years! Multiplying that out to every child in America (and beyond) and you can see how any change in habit could help. In our house, the kids pick a lunchbox at the beginning of the year that I clean, use a mishmash of reusable plastic containers for the food and send them with reusable plastic sporks every day, but I haven’t quite weaned myself completely off of the ubiquitous plastic resealable bag. They’re just so easy when the rest of the tupperware is dirty or I can’t locate a matching lid!

Light My Fire's reusable plastic sporks

Apparently, I’ve been getting off easy. Some moms are getting flack from their children to go green as peer pressure at the lunch table mounts at school. According to Julie Corbett, an Oakland, Ca. mom, the prospect of having to go to school with a ziploc baggy in their lunch box is enough to wreck her kids’ entire morning, per an interview with the NY Times.

One of the main concerns families may have about going green is the up-front cost of all the reusable gear, but in the long run it can actually be cost-effective as you no longer have to buy plastic baggies or brown paper bags (does anyone really still use those?). And, as with everything, you can spend as much or as little as your wallet affords. We put together a list that covers the latest in eco-friendly lunch bags, utensils, and containers that will make any parent happy to make brown bags and plastic baggies a thing of the past. In fact, you can get everything reusable, from the spork to the napkin.


  • Kids Konserve Insulated Lunch Bag 1 of 14
    Kids Konserve Insulated Lunch Bag
    Available in great patterns, this bag makes a stylish alternative that even a tween would be happy to carry. Available for $21.95. Find it here.
  • PB Teen Lunch Purse 2 of 14
    PB Teen Lunch Purse
    There's not a girly-girl in the world who would deny the awesomeness of this updated take on the lunch box. On sale now for $15.60. Find it here.
  • Dabbawalla Lady Bug Lunch Bag 3 of 14
    Dabbawalla Lady Bug Lunch Bag
    An adorable and functional bag to make it all the way through pre-school. Which it better do at the price of $29.95. Find it here.
  • PB Teen C-Thru Boxes 4 of 14
    PB Teen C-Thru Boxes
    An assortment of square plastic containers that work well in a rectangular lunch box. On sale now for $15.50. Find it here.
  • Reusit Sandwich Bags 5 of 14
    Reusit Sandwich Bags
    Double-layered nylon bags big enough for a sandwich or bagel. Made in the USA and comes with a lifetime guarantee. $8.95 each. Find it here.
  • Graze Organic Bags 6 of 14
    Graze Organic Bags
    At $38.95, this set of 100% organic cotton snack and sandwich bags are the priciest of the lot, but they have a certain irresistible charm that can't be denied. Find it here.
  • Reusies Bags 7 of 14
    Reusies Bags
    Cotton sandwich bags with a nylon lining makes these one of the best for keeping sandwiches fresh. Plus, they've got great designs and are available in sandwich and snack sizes. $6.95 for snack size bag, $8.95 for sandwich size. Find it here.
  • Gladware Snack Containers 8 of 14
    Gladware Snack Containers
    Perfect on any budget at $2.95 for a six-pack of snack containers. Available in many sizes and shapes at varying prices. Find it here.
  • TO-GoWare Bamboo Utensils 9 of 14
    TO-GoWare Bamboo Utensils
    This almost painfully hip bamboo set, plus chopsticks, comes with its own recycled plastic holder. $12.95 and available in 5 colors. Find it here.
  • Lunch Skins 10 of 14
    Lunch Skins
    These sandwich and snack bags come in a ton of great designs on coated cotton. The designs are perfect for older kids as well as the little ones. $8.95 per. Find it here.
  • Laptop Lunch Box 11 of 14
    Laptop Lunch Box
    Bento-style lunch box with lots of little containers to perfectly fill up the space. Comes in cute designs for little ones or plain. Pricey, but that tiny little sauce container makes me want to squeal in delight every time I see it. $43.95 for the set. Find it here.
  • Thermos-Style Bento 12 of 14
    Thermos-Style Bento
    For the soup and hot-leftovers lovers, this insulated bento thermos will keep the hot hot and the cold cold. Not too bad, price-wise, at $29.95. Find it here.
  • Planetbox Lunch 13 of 14
    Planetbox Lunch
    I adore this two-piece, no-frills metal lunch box that requires zero containers & lids and just clamps closed around the packed food. If you want wet food, like soup or yogurt, you can order metal containers to go in the box or use your own. $34.95, but jumps to $49.95 with the watertight containers. Find it here.
  • EasyLunchbox 14 of 14
    EasyLunchbox
    An insulated bag ($7.95) that you pack with perfectly sized sectioned tupperware (4-pack $13.95). As easy as the name says. Find it here.

Read more posts by Amy Windsor aka @theBitchinWife:
Humorous Toddler Tshirts: Merely Inappropriate to Downright Offensive
Why We Need To Encourage Our Boys’ Friendships
Ten Ways to Tighten Your Gucci Belt In a Bear Market

Improve your kids’ snack habits with these Healthy Kids Lunch Ideas!

 

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