My Greener School Lunchbox Challenge

School is around the corner, and as much as I would rather continue to bask in the laziness of summer, I am starting to plan ahead. I have the supply list from my kids’ schools, I’ve entered the school calendar onto my Google calendar, and I’ve purchased new school clothes for one of my two kiddos. OK, I am still basking, so no judging. But one thing I have decided to focus on is packing a greener lunchbox. Sure, I’m going to add school lunch meals to my Pinterest board, too. But this year I’m trying to pack less plastic. Both my two kids and I bring our lunch the majority of the school year. If I can reduce our plastic usage with a few easy swaps, I feel like I’m doing my part to make a difference, even if it’s a small one.

Here are five easy ways I intend to make my school lunchbox greener this year, resulting in less plastic with less plastic and waste going into our landfills:

  1. Opt for reusable, instead of plastic, utensils. I try to use reusable cutlery when possible, but honestly, it just doesn’t always happen at my house. I found the brand World Centric at Target that makes plant-based disposable utensils. This product is biodegradable/compostable and affordable. Yay! I must admit I can’t always find them at my Target, but when I spot this product I grab a few bags. Amazon also sells wooden disposable utensils that have good reviews. 
  2. Ban plastic sandwich bags. I normally use a good ol’ BPA-free sandwich box, but, alas, it doesn’t always come home/get washed/etc. When my sandwich box is out of commission, I have always just quickly grabbed a plastic sandwich bag/snack bag. But this year, I’m vowing to change that now that I’ve discovered reusable silicone bags on Amazon. Love these! And for days when I know everything will be thrown away (field trips, picnics, etc.), Reynold’s Kitchens has wax paper sandwich bags, which I’ve found at my local HEB for $3.99 for 50 bags. Yes! 
  3. Use reusable water bottles. My kids know I am going to give them water 90% of the time, but I have too often thrown in a juice box and even plastic one-use water bottles. No more! Juice and water are heading to school in reusable water bottles. 
  4. Ditch the individually packaged snacks. I know it is so easy to send kids to school with individual packages of applesauce, fruit cups, and everything else, but that plastic adds up! Fresh fruit is not only more economical, it’s also better for you. I have been buying large containers of yogurt and scooping the yogurt into reusable individual containers for the kids to have with lunches or snacks. I also have been using silicone yogurt freezer rolls. If I buy large bags of snacks and put them into smaller, reusable containers, my kids can still have snack mix, crackers, etc., but they are not creating more trash and plastic waste.
  5. Cook/bake/create your own instead of buying pre-packaged. I have tried out several recipes this summer. (OK, some of them are still just hanging out on my Pinterest board.) But instead of buying a box of granola bars or trail mix, I can make no-bake energy balls or bake a batch of muffins. Even my kids can create their own trail mix from cereal, dried fruit, and nuts. Even if some chocolate chips and M&Ms end up thrown into the mix, it’s still probably healthier than other stuff I’ve thrown in those lunchboxes. I’m no Betty Crocker, but I figure I can bake two dozen muffins once a month. Am I right? I sure hope so! I know that I might fail sometimes, but I also know that if I have a plan in place it will be harder to revert back to my old ways. Also, if I get my kids involved and tell them what my plan is, those wonderful little brats darlings will hold me to it! Who knows? Maybe they’ll take the initiative to start packing their own lunches!

Even if we commit to these ideas only 50% of the time this year, I’ll be happy. That is still a lot less plastic that we did not add to our landfills. If you would like to see my “winners” and “losers” as I work on my Greener Lunchbox Challenge, feel free to follow my Pinterest board hereHave your own ideas for how to create a greener lunchbox for your kids or yourself? Let me know by commenting!