One of the biggest questions I get when talking about living a low waste lifestyle is: “but what about my kids?!” While it might take a bit more maneuvering, there are easy ways to reduce waste in your child’s life. And since you may be in charge of packing their lunch box, it’s a great place to start. Here are some easy ways to have a plastic-free, low waste lunchbox.
Swap juice boxes for reusable water bottles
Juice boxes are a lot of packaging for a small beverage, and they come with those pesky little plastic straws. Instead of throwing in a juice box, what about buying a larger container of juice, milk, or the beverage of your choosing (preferably in glass!) and filling up a small water bottle to pack in your child’s lunch box? Better yet— make some fresh juice yourself if you feel like getting fancy!
Skip disposable baggies and opt for Stashers
This one probably won’t come as a surprise, but one of the easiest ways to reduce plastic in your kid’s lunch box is to swap plastic sandwich baggies for Stasher bags. Sandwiches can go in our sandwich bag, and snacks in our snack size bag, or even some little sweet treats into the Pocket Stasher! They are light and fold flat so they barely take up room in a lunch box, and you can wash and reuse the Stasher bags for tomorrow’s lunch.
Replace packaged snacks with fruit
Another way to avoid plastic, and to save money and avoid sneaky ingredients, is to avoid single-serving snack packs. Instead, swap out packs of pretzels or goldfish for fruit— apples, grapes, a banana, or oranges are great lunchbox options. You can throw your fruit into a Stasher or small reusable container. Bonus: pick up your fruits and veggies at the farmer's market to avoid packaging and help stimulate the local economy!
Or make your own snacks
If you still want to include something like cookies, consider making your own! That way you can ensure that the recipe uses ingredients you like, and avoid the packaging it comes in. Or, if making your own isn’t possible, consider buying the items package free from the bulk section of your supermarket or, my favorite, frequenting the local farmer’s market to find locally-made and package-free goodies.
Don’t forget to pack your reusables
A plastic-free lunch box should include reusable cutlery, a reusable napkin, and a metal or silicone straw. That way your child won’t need to grab any cutlery from the cafeteria and end up with plastic waste. You can either buy a set for on-the-go use, or just toss in what you already have in your kitchen. Sometimes the lowest-waste options are ones you already have on hand.
Audit your lunchboxes
Only you are the expert on what goes into your child’s lunchbox, so if you are determined to reduce waste, keep an eye on what you’re putting in that has plastic or other waste. Start to make the simple swaps listed above where possible, or find new options for ones that don’t have an easy swap. And remember, buying items in bigger containers and packaging them yourself into smaller containers is easier on the environment than buying pre-packaged single servings. So if you kid loves their pretzels, stock up on the biggest container you can find and then create single-servings using reusable containers mentioned above.
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