Green Up, Simple Switches

Package Free Lunchboxes

What is a litter-less lunch?

Packing lunches and snacks. We’ve told ourselves that it is convenient to buy the packaged snack pack and individually wrapped cheese. We have convinced ourselves and our kids that it is more fun to eat that fruit, yogurt cup or yogurt drink that comes dressed in plastic disposable cups. It is a lesson to teach our kids to be critical and be able to recognize this persuasion of advertising.

It doesn’t have to be “all or nothing”. We can adjust a couple of things at a time. If for the most part, we thoughtfully pack our on-the-meals, we’ll be one step closer to reducing our impact on this earth.

Why is this important?

Many of us have been recycling for a while.  The next step is to try and shrink our blue bins and reduce the amount of packaging that comes into our homes, workspaces, and schools in the first place.  World population is growing. We are at 7 billion people now and producing more and more products to feed the demand.  At the same time, we are becoming more aware of the effects we are having on this planet that we live on. The public is given reports and documentaries telling us that we have to do something. We see it ourselves as the weather patterns change and we change in wildlife populations (within our own generation). We know this but how do we play our part in the solution.

Recycling is important but we need to take it another step further and reduce the number of items that need to be broken down in the first place. What we are really doing is passing convenience on. That package has to be rinsed and put into the recycling bin where it waits the trip to the recycling centre to be broken down and processed some more to be turned into something else.

Who needs to do this?

We can not just leave it to the big groups and the big corporations and government to take care of things and tell us what to do. Both business and government need to know that the decisions they make will be supported.
It doesn’t have to be all at once. I have a feeling that the notion of having to make a  big change is enough to turn people away. We are more likely to keep on a path if it is done smoothly and consistently.

What is important is that willingness to seek out alternatives to alleviate the stress on our environment. Tiny as it may seem it does add up.

Remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect or an all or nothing lifestyle. Do what makes sense. If you make these adjustments for the most part and it is ordinary, forgive yourself when it doesn’t always work out. For example, if you are in the grocery store and you have to make a choice of whether to buy something that is not ideal, decide if it is an item that you can add to next week’s list.

When & how do I start?

It begins small. If we just tweak the way we pack our lunches and do it consistently as we can that in itself can reduce what ends up in the landfill or had to be recycled.  It doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor. I have a feeling that many don’t because they think it means more expense. It means reusable lunch bags, water bottles and containers. There can be a price tag if you are able – there are costly stainless steel containers, as well as glass.  These are durable and last for many years, so you can look at it as an investment much as you do with dishes you use in our home or your clothes. With kids there are additional consideration such as weight and breakage. Schools may have policies in place such as wanting to avoid glassware. This makes sense and so I am understanding of this but what is the alternative? Stainless steel containers are light but expensive. Plastic is something we are trying to also lessen but it is a safe and durable material for your children who are hauling lunches to school every day… The thing is to compromise and find something that works for your lifestyle. If you can afford a stainless steel lunch kit or containers -do it. If a couple of smaller individual ones are what you can do – do it. Add to your stock as times goes on and what you are using currently breaks down. Switching to a Litter-less lunchbox is a process and that is what we have to remember.

  • Stop using plastic baggies. Use washable containers. There is a huge array of small food grade containers out there. You may already own some but mainly use them for leftovers in the fridge. Make the decision what type based on the things I mentioned earlier. A good thermos is vital. We have a couple of one for hot meals. But it doesn’t actually have to be strictly used for hot. I also send younger portions in a smaller container instead of buying single yogurt cup serving. I send in z metal spoon. If she somehow ends up with a plastic one because maybe I forgot it’s not a big deal.
  • When shopping buy bulk unpacked and dole them out in a washable take home container. If you really are going for zero waste or waste less buy from bulk food bins where you can.
  • Machine washable
  • Have kids help pack. Kids often like sorting and using small containers.
  • Bento style lunch boxes. People, especially kids, love sorting and having compartments for items. It makes it fun to pack, fun to look at and fun to eat. Cleaning up is easy too because it is all in one system.
  • There are health benefits too! Eating better snacks plus often it is more cost effective to buy bulk or a larger quantity. The trick is though, not to but too much of a product and end up wasting. That would not be good.

I’d like to collect ideas and add them to a list of ways we can take things on the go. Being a little bit inventive can carry us a long way on this journey of minimizing our impact on this planet. Feel free to share!

What do you think?