Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Back to School, Back to Green

It's almost that time: the one that Staples refers to as "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year". Pip, Sprout and I have had a wonderfully relaxed summer thanks to my new work schedule but now we are watching the summer days slip away and hoping for a wonderful start to September.

Here are a few ideas I have for making sure that we don't lose sight of our eco-friendly lunch habits as we head into a more hectic fall.

You may recall my reluctance to let go of the plastic baggies, but I think we have found a nice, if not entirely eco-friendly alternative. For everything from Pirate Booty to sliced cucumbers, I've been using small, plastic containers with screw-on lids. They are small, light, reusable, and the reliable lids give me the peace of mind that their lunch boxes won't return to me smelling like Eau de Spilt Yogurt.

I usually don't go for juice boxes, but when I do I go with the less compact juice pouch option. Why? Because Terracycle can turn them into radical pencil cases or homework folders! We only hope that Terracycle will have their new website up and running soon with details on how you can turn this reuse opportunity into a school fundraiser! **Update - Terracycle emailed me letting me know that they are frantically working on a much needed website makeover. Stay tuned!**

After much teeth gnashing and price comparing, I finally settled on a decent water bottle option: the bpa-free offerings from Nalgene. I was able to pick them up at Target and they have proven to be quite successful. The wide mouth lets me plunk in some ice cubes or, better yet, I can freeze water in them overnight so that Pip and Sprout will still have some icy cold refreshment when snack time finally rolls around.

And as for reusable cloth napkins, don't even get me started. Etsy is seriously draining my bank account when it comes to adorable, handmade accoutrements for les enfants!

I realize we are heavy on the plastics, but for now these are the best choices for my family. Perhaps after I steal, er, glean some ideas from the Green Moms Carnival {**updated link!} back to school edition we'll be making some even greener choices in the future.

How about you? Any ideas for healthy, waste-free lunches?

11 comments:

Jason said...

This is a great site you have here. I have a blog myself that inspires people and I would like to exchange links with you. When you get a chance, let me know if this is possible, either by email or a comment on my site. Jason

kate said...

Awesome tips! Reusable plastic jars are a big step up from plastic baggies....give yourself a hand!

Green Bean said...

"lunch boxes won't return to me smelling like Eau de Spilt Yogurt". LOL! That's what happened to us and several trips through the washing machine did not help out the poor and now stinky lunch box. We made it last through the rest of the year but let's just say that the big boy is getting a new (to us) lunch box this year.

mother earth aka karen hanrahan said...

bandanas are another option for cloth napkins and often cost less - they are oversized and can be cut down too.

TurningTransparent said...

I keep a big selection of bandanas around for napkins. It's a leftover from my professional girlscout days. I never travel without my AP.

Lisa Sharp said...

Like Kate said reusable plastic containers is much better than plastic bags!!

Check out the lunchbots if you want a good stainless steel container. I love them!

mcmilker said...

I go for the reusable plastic jars too- you have to start somewhere

Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship said...

I just posted on green lunches, if you're interested: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/08/25/packing-a-reduced-waste-lunch/ Baby steps to success!

Mary Beth said...

I hate plastic but packing the little glass containers is so heavy! That is what we are doing for now though (for Dieter, who just started preschool and needs to bring his lunch for the first time ever). He also takes a stainless steel container, which is much lighter. And I STILL have not figured out a decent alternative for the teens. They're still taking a paper lunchsack with either plastic baggies or waxed paper bags. I need to change that--soon. Thanks for sharing your current solutions; I *love* this topic.

Kathryn P said...

Great post! Love the green tips..here's another tip from me. I found these eco-friendly backpacks that are each made from seven recycled water bottles. If you want to check them out, here's the site:
http://www.askmelissa.com/index.php/features/back_to_school_08-31-09

Zach said...

Hey some really good ideas here! Reusables are definitely key, I always try to reuse the plastics as well.