The Reality of a Litterless Lunch
By Heidi Avanthay
The concept of a litterless lunch is simple: reduce the amount of waste your child creates at school by packing their food and drink in reusable containers. If this is your first introduction to litterless lunch, I think it’s fair to say that a common reaction to the concept may be one of frustration, it’s much more convenient to grab prepackaged, individually wrapped items than dealing with scooping, slicing, dicing and pouring. When talking in terms of a school lunch for children, there are so many factors to consider: dietary restrictions, individual preferences, food that is best hot, food that is best cold, etc. Packing lunches can feel like a chore and adding another factor, avoiding packaging, can seem overwhelming. Like all other worthwhile habits, it just takes a change in thought process, a little practice and soon you’ll not only be eco-friendly but finding a little extra money in your food budget! Thinking like it’s a journey towards a litterless lunch, any time you are able to pack food in a reusable container or pack a food that doesn’t come in a wrapper, it’s a win! Exchanging a juice pouch or box with a reusable water bottle is a win!
I did a lot of research into my lunch kit purchases and I share this with you in the spirit of encouragement and not to seem preachy or like an infomercial. I wanted gear that was (1) environmentally responsible, (2) would last, and (3) was kid-friendly. Having the right go-to containers has made lunch packing much easier. I chose the Klean Kanteen insulated wide-mouthed water bottle and let my kids pick their favourite colours. For their lunch box, I purchased the Three-In-One Classic ECOlunchbox. We use U-KONSERVE mini containers for dips and granola. For soups and food that I want to keep warm, we use the Thermos brand stainless steel vacuum insulated food jar. We also have an assortment of Abeego food wraps to use in place of plastic wrap (available in the NEAT Shoppe) and LunchSkins, Bumkins or Colibri bags instead of Ziplocs. I send real cutlery and linen napkins and have honestly never regretted any of these purchases. My kids are able to open and close all of the containers and everything washes well.
Why is a litterless lunch so important? Here is why I first began my journey towards a litterless lunch…
- I want to reduce the amount of single-use plastics that I am responsible for sending out into the environment.
- I want to protect my children’s health by storing our food more safely. I became more aware of toxic and leaching chemicals in plastics.
- I want to encourage healthy eating habits with better portion control and more of the homemade / less of the pre-packaged.
Remember, it doesn’t all have to be done at once, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Nobody gets off the couch and runs 26.2 miles in their first day. Start with small changes, as you get comfortable with those, introduce a little more. Before you know it, you’ll be a litterless lunch master, your kids will be healthier and your wallet a little heavier!