There are many eco-friendly options available for school lunch, but let’s face it: most of them are still pretty pricey. Shelling out $21 for a Sigg water bottle or $37.95 for a Laptop lunch box adds up to big bucks quickly.
Here are five super cheap, easy ways you can send your kids back-to-school with an eco-friendly lunch bag. If you’re fortunate enough to have what you need already, maybe you could take this post and send it to a school list serv or to others who might find this information helpful.
There are really just five things you need for a waste-free lunch:
1. Lunch box – or brown bag. While there are great eco-friendly lunch box options out there, most range from $14 on up. You can buy a pack of 100 brown paper lunch bags for $1.99. No, it’s not totally waste-free, but most municipalities recycle paper – so you can toss the bag out with the newspapers to be recycled! It’s a much more environmentally friendly option than buying a conventional school lunch bag, which are often made of PVC plastic. Read here to learn why you want to avoid PVC, which is harmful to our health and to the environment.
2. Water bottles. This is a biggie. Visit nearly any school cafeteria and you’ll see a staggering amount of waste from disposable juice boxes and milk containers. Yet most stainless or non-PVC water bottles are $10 and up – some as high as $25 or more. Before I invested in two Sigg Mr. Sharky’s (pictured below), I used a good ole Honest Tea bottle. Made of durable glass, it was fine for drinks on the go. I still use one in a pinch!
3. Cloth napkin. No need to buy new here. Pretty much everyone has a spare dish rag or dish towel lying around the house, or some “good” cloth napkins that are only taken out for “special occasions.” These are perfect for school lunch. So far, my son hasn’t asked why he carries a linen dishcloth with a 1977 calendar on it, but I’m sure that day is coming soon…!
4. Food containers. My how things have changed just in the past year. Now you can buy stainless steel containers for school lunch. But again, cost is an issue. If you don’t want to spend $40 for an all-in-one lunch kit or $16 for a stainless steel food container, you can go the el cheapo route like I did.
Unfortunately there are no more of these nifty $4.99 glass pyrex containers at the Bethesda Giant, because I bought out their entire stock!
And here’s a shot of Big Boy with his lunch bag, which contains some plastic (gasp) Gerber food containers. I love these. They’re made in the good old USA, they’re cheap (under $5 for 4 small dishes) and they’re made of #5 plastic, which does not contain BPA. Still, to be on the safe side (because all plastics can leach) I keep these plastic bowls out of the dishwasher and the microwave I had to search high and low for these – they seem to sell out as soon as they’re in stock, but you can sometimes find them at Target or Buy Buy Baby.
He’s also carrying a more traditional “Green Mom” accoutrement – a Wrap n’ Mat sandwich wrap, which is made of washable cloth and durable, low density polyethylene (LDPE). These sell for $7.99 on the Internet, but I bought mine locally at My Organic Market. When I hit the Wrap n’ Mat website as I was writing this post, I learned that they’ve just introduced little snack pouches, which sell for $8.99 each.
5. Cutlery. This past school year I packed lunches with our regular cutlery, and unfortunately I regret it because some of our silverware never made it home. This year I’m trying Sporks !
And I leave you with a picture of my boys’ trusty Crocodile Creek lunch bags being cleaned out. Because this frugal green Mom isn’t planning to buy new ones this year!
This post is for the Green Moms Carnival: Green Schools Edition, which runs tomorrow (Monday, August 10th) right here at OrganicMania.
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