It's almost that time again. You had a break from packing school lunches for the summer, and now the new school year is just around the corner.A home- packed lunch can take on many forms. There are so many new packaging styles that make lunches simple! Toss 'em in; an applesauce pouch, little baby carrots bag, packaged sandwich, granola bar and a juice pouch. Boom! Lunch is packed. Each one an individual serving; it's so easy, so very convenient. And what's more, the lunch cleanup is simple, too – a slam dunk into garbage can and it all goes away. Or does it?
We worked with some students to analyze the cost and environmental savings. Here's what we found:
A jar of applesauce costs $.15 per serving while an individual cup is $.38 and a pouch comes in at $.69. Using a washable container from home generates no waste, while the cup and pouch need to go to the landfill. The jar of applesauce can be recycled. Send a washable spoon.
Crackers from a large box cost $.27 per serving while individual bags come in at $.33 per serving. Again using a washable container makes this a nearly zero waste choice, as the box is recyclable and just the large inner bag needs to go to the landfill.
Juice pouches create lots of garbage in school lunches. Not only do you have to throw out the pouch, but the straw and straw wrapper too. And who can get the straw in the pouch without spilling on yourself, anyway? Why not send cold water in a reusable bottle? While the economic cost of juice in a bottle versus pouch is about the same, the health and environmental impacts of taking water in your own bottle make this a great choice!
So as you prepare for the new school year, weigh the cost of it all:; economic, environmental and time. We're all strapped for time, but find easy methods and containers that work for you. Work towards waste- free lunch packing, one container at a time. Make one switch and see how it goes. Small changes make a big impact over the course of 180 days of school. Why not try it and see? For more about school waste audits, waste reduction help, waste- free lunches and school green team info, check out www.clarkgreenschools.org