It's that time of year . . . the yellow school buses are rolling out of the bus barn, the pencil sharpener is waking up and moms and dads around the world are preparing to pack daily lunches once again. I think that we'd all agree that "brown bagging" it is definitely the least expensive way to eat lunch at school . . . not to mention the healthiest way! Hopefully after reading this post you'll have a few more ways to save some cash as well as the lovely planet. Let me explain . . .
Every kid produces an average of 67 pounds of lunchbox waste per year. That equates to 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for just one average-size elementary school (laptoplunches.com)- think baggies, wrappers, yogurt containers, juice boxes, plastic silverware, paper bags . . . enter Lunchopolis, Laptop Lunches, Lunchsense, Kid Conserve and other lunchbox systems.
First of all, Laptop Lunches are phthalate free, bisphenol-A (BPA) free and lead free. Lunchopolis is PVC and lead free. Lunchsense is BPA lead and PVC free. Kid Conserve is made of recycled cotton and non-leaching food grade stainless steel. You're saving your kiddo exposure to some fantastic chemicals - bravo!!!
Second you've got reusable containers that fit perfectly in the box so that saves trash and cash. No more buying lunch bags and Ziplocs to store lunch in. You can also buy a "back-up" set of containers so that while one set is being washed, the other set can be packed for the next day's lunch - handy dandy. Using one plastic sandwich bag per school day will cost approximately $10 a year. With a lunchbox system you never need to use plastic bags.
Third - more trash and cash savings: think juice boxes, yogurt, bottled water, granola bar wrappers, chip bags . . . using a lunchbox system encourages bulk buying. For example, packing one 8 ounce juice box in your child’s lunch every school day will cost approximately $224 a year. Refilling your reusable drinking bottle every school day from a 128 ounce bottle of juice would cost approximately $144 a year. That’s a savings of $80 (see you've paid for the lunchbox and it's guts already!!!). An individual serving of organic yogurt costs approximately $1.50. A 32 ounce container of the same yogurt costs approximately $3 and you get up to 5 servings to fill your reusable container. Individual 8 oz bottles of spring water will cost you approximately $47 a year. Using a reuseable waterbottle and water bought in a 1 to 5 gallon container will cost approximately $5 to $11 a year . . . . you get the point.
Other ways to save:
Pack a reusable cloth napkin
Pack real silverware - afraid your kid will lose your nice silverware (they will :)? Take a trip to your neighborhood thrift store and stock up so that you won't have to worry about granny's silver going missing.
Just think, if every child did this - Money normally spent on waste hauling could be used in the classroom instead.
If you are looking for some creative, healthy and fun lunch ideas for the 180 days that you all pack lunches, check here.
Learn to pack a no waste lunchbox here.
Packing lunches in containers means a bit more work . . . no more easy to throw in Quaker granola bars, snack packs of Doritos and Gogurt. However, calculating the cost to your wallet as well as to the environment shows that the extra effort pays off in the end.