by Mary-Louise Fellowes
Today we are looking at how to provide a plastic free lunch box for your kiddies. While this was initially published on our blog in January, I am really interested to hear how your pack lunches have changed since the COVID-19 restrictions came in. We are yet to hear what stipulations our schools have over acceptable lunch items. But we have heard horror stories of only single use, disposable items being accepted. Drop us a line in the comments and let us know, as we will research alternatives based on your feedback.
Ohhhh the minefield that is delivering the right food to your children daily, in a way that they want it. Anyone who has sent a child to school with a home packed lunch box knows they will do what they can to avoid that food being swapped, or worse, binned come lunchtime. We strive to give our children healthy options while still delivering on something that makes them happy and doesn’t kill our weekly food budget. My husband still talks about how he was the only child in the school canteen who had thick grainy bread, made with love in his father’s bread maker. But all he wanted was a nice thin cardboardy slice of white bread loveliness. Luckily he hasn’t been scared by this. He happily sends our children off with wibbly wobbly uneven slices of grainy bread now himself. Oh hail the circle of life.
But down to something more practical. How do you really create that eco friendly lunch and start omitting that throw away plastic?
Take a look at what you are sending out in the morning. How much plastic is in there to start with. Are you using cling film? Do you sending individual juice boxes with that teeny weeny plastic straw attached? Are you sending a drink pouch (I’m looking at you Tropicana). Do you send off those perfectly little lunch time sized bags of crisps or crackers – mini cheddars or Soreen fruit loaf bars? Let me take some of the hassle out of it for you and list some changes you can make in the lunch box without spending a penny more than you already do (and in some cases, saving you cash)
But, as with all plastic swaps, the first thing to do is use what you have! Do not be dumping your plastic containers and plastic lunch bags in order to go eco. The best eco tip is to keep using what you already have until it is done. Kaa-ching!
Check out these 5 easy steps for eco friendly lunches and providing a plastic free lunch box
- Use containers: Stainless steel alternatives are great options for your loose bits and snacks. They don’t stain, or smell like plastic can and they can handle being knocked around by over zealous kids. And they are a great way to sneak in a surprise to brighten your child’s day. Need ideas? Cut out the cheese strings and baby bell and put a selection of snacks in a discovery container for your child to find each day. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just mix it up occasionally and they will be delighted.
- Reusable bottles: Seems obvious but its amazing how many people still don’t do this one. Switch out the single use drink containers for a reusable bottle.
- Ditch the Cling Film: Pack sandwiches, wraps, pittas, whatever it is you send, in bees wax wraps or soy wax wraps. They mould to any shape, keep food intact and fresh and scrunch up small like clingfilm when done so there are no bulky leftover boxes to bring home. If you are worried that your child won’t bring your beautiful wax wrap back with them at the end of the day, you could offer a little incentive when they get home… a little chocolate button ‘incentive’ was never turned away in our house. Find out more here.
- Combine Snacks: Instead of sending individually packed crisps, crackers, cakes or biscuits, use a container and put a few bits in there instead. OK it may have come from one central packet that is plastic (although there are plenty of supermarket options that are not) but creating one piece of plastic waste for the week is better than 5 (or 10, 15, depending on how many lunches you are making).
When you see those little packets of crackers in the bin every single day you see how the waste soon mounts up.
- Get inventive: My mother sent us to school every day with a little mini glass pot (one of those mini jam jars you get in hampers for example) of nuts and raisins and I was the envy of every child in the classroom. And in 7 years of Primary school I only ever broke it once. Yip!
Even if you don’t feel you can commit to all these things, pick a couple and start. Children don’t care what their lunches are packed in, they just want to get it over and play. But the plastic debate is one that is being started in schools now. They are the future of our world and the education on conscious consumption needs to start young. By implementing a few of these changes in your child’s lunch box, they will undeniably pick up on these habits, even if its only sub conscious. Show them the way forward and be the change you want to see.
If you have any other tips on how to make a plastic free lunch box please do let us know below
Want to read more about more sustainability for children? Read our top tips for teaching them sustainability, or how a 12 year old student wrestles the single use plastic debate
Thanks for reading!