It’s back to school time, and for many families with young children, that means back to the morning routine of getting the kids out of bed, dressed, and out the door with a packed lunch and snack for the day.
During the inevitable morning scramble, putting together a lunch, or several lunches, often leads to finding what is “fast and convenient” (like prepackaged foods, disposable plastic baggies and utensils, paper napkins, and juice boxes) over non-toxic, waste-free lunches.
While these fast and convenient disposable items seem to save time in the morning… are they saving us money, our health, and the environment? This is what the team at Wild Mint set to find out.
To begin, we asked ourselves, what makes a lunch non-toxic and waste-free? Everything packed should be able to be eaten, reused, recycled or composted. To help avoid exposure to toxic chemicals in lunches, lunch gear should also be free from BPA, phthalates, PVCs, lead, and other heavy metals.
- Instead of a disposable paper bag, pack a reusable lunch bag
- Use a reusable bottle instead of a disposable drink bottle or carton
- Try reusable utensils such as bamboo or stainless steel instead of plastic utensils
- Pack a cloth napkin instead of paper napkins
- Instead of plastic baggies, foil or plastic wrap, get reusable snack and sandwich bags
- Use reusable food containers instead of buying prepackaged foods
- If a straw is necessary, opt for glass or stainless steel instead of plastic
After extensive research, we found that packing a reusable, waste-free lunch was not only cheaper, healthier, and more environmentally friendly than a disposable lunch, but also something that could be accomplished efficiently with some time saving tips!
Based on research and advice from family, friends, and bloggers, we determined that a typical school lunch and snack consists of the following:
- Main Course (examples: leftovers from healthy dinners, a sandwich, pasta, pizza, salad with roll, etc.)
- Snack (granola, crackers, yogurt, nuts, etc.)
- Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt)
- Fruit (apple, banana, strawberries, etc.)
- Vegetable (carrots, celery, broccoli, etc.)
- Drink (juice, water, milk)
With this in mind, we calculated the estimated costs of packing a healthy, organic school lunch and afternoon snack in both disposable and reusable packaging, and were amazed by the results:
The Savings Per Child Per School Year = $417.60
By packing a reusable, waste free lunch, parents could save an estimated $2.32 per child per day, which comes out to a total of $417.60 per child per school year. That’s well over $400 that could go back into your family’s budget for bills, groceries, and more!