And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination. - Jeremiah 2:7
It takes work to care for God's Creation, but we all want things to be easier! How do you know what to choose and what makes the most sense? Well, EEN Moms is here to help. We have spent years attending organic, green product and sustainability events. Hundreds of new projects exist that are healthy and sustainable.
This list of lunch box items is not meant as an endorsement. Rather, this list serves as a guideline to help you find your own items to reduce waste. If you think we missed something, please share at the bottom in the comment section.
- Dump disposable plastic baggies. Sure they are quick and easy, but how many do you use per child per lunch? Now multiply that by the number of children in your school and then the number schools in the US. Okay, so we can't count that high either but you get the idea. And remember the average plastic bag is made from petroleum. So we have to drill, transport, ship and package a bag that is used for less than a day. Here are some picks to help you dump the baggie.
Lunchskins - These snazzy lunch bags were created by three groovy and concerned moms. They are made out of toxin free plastic as the lining and adorable fabric on the outside. They say they can used over 500 times, but our experience is they last longer. Bonus! They are dishwasher safe. Shhh! These are great for Mom and Dad's lunches too. Even Fido's snacks can use a lunchskin.
- Get a reusable thermos for your kids. Thermoses have come a long way and whether you need to keep something cold or hot, an investment in a good thermos can go a long way in reducing your child's footprint on creation. They can double as a water bottle, too!
There are zillions of thermoses out there, so we aren't going to recommend one but there are plenty of reviews on the internet to help you make the right choice for you and your family.
- How many plastic straws do Americans use every day? 500,000 million (or half a billion) disposable plastic straws each and every day. That's a hard number to imagine. So, to have some perspective- 1/2 billion straws wrap around the earth two and half times each and every day. How long do you use a straw for? 20 minutes? An hour? How long does a plastic straw last in the environment? According to Google, up to 200 years. Does that seem balanced? 20 minutes of convenience and then somewhere else for 200 years? Now you might say I don't send a straw with my kids lunch, but if you send a juice box you send a straw. Solution? Buy juice in bulk and send it in a thermos. Need a straw? Have you tried washable stainless steel? It's a great solution and actually keeps the liquid cooler as kids drink through it.
- Parchment paper over wax paper. Sometimes wrapping something in wax paper just makes sense, but wax paper is actually coated with petroleum based wax. Who knew petroleum was in so many things that touch our food? Instead of wax paper, pick up unbleached parchment paper. By purchasing unbleached paper you are reducing the number of toxic chemicals used in paper production. They also make cupcake papers from unbleached parchment paper for when your kids have done something special and they get a treat in their lunch.
- Skip the brown paper lunch bag. Anonymous lunch bags are out. Allow your kids to make a stylish statement with a reusable lunch box...even if your teenager picks out an anonymous black fabric bag. It makes it easier to put all the other reusable items back in it and get it back home too. Of course the ultimate lunch equipment is the bento box with all it's little compartments that make organizing lunch easy.
Okay, it takes a little work but think of the rewards. First, you are going to save time and money. No more having to shop for plastic baggies or brown paper bags. Sure, initially kids might forget or misplace their lunch bag but you get to teach them a lesson in responsibility. You get to teach your kids about how to care for God's creation too. You might want to even turn it into a math homework project. How much money is saved or how many baggies are saved in a year? Our values as Christians call us to tend the garden and this means we need to do it each and every day.
A simple act of re-thinking the lunch box can become an act of discipleship. Don't forget to say a prayer over each lunch you pack. It's all about caring for God's creation each and every day.
* Bento Box Image - Bento Boxes for kids by Melissa on Flickr. Creative Common License.