Tips to Make a Child’s Lunch Eco-Friendly

By 4/16/2021 03:29:00 PM ,

After a long pandemic pause, schools are getting back in session and the routine of packing a lunch is back. With Earth Day around the corner, it’s the perfect time for a lunch reboot with ECOlunchbox!

Did you know that waste has increased about 30% since the virus took root? Why? Families have doubled down on using single use masks, gloves, hand wipes and other single use items.

It's time to say goodbye to plastic and the single-use habits. With a little planning we can keep ourselves healthy, as well as protect our planet from needless plastic.

Here are some easy swaps to take lunchboxs, a child's or yours, from EEK! to ECO.

EEK: BPA-Free Plastic

We've all heard about the dangers of BPA (bisphenol-A). This chemical widely found in plastics mimics estrogen, so it can cause all kinds of hormone disruptions. Plastic companies have done a switcher-o and in order to label their products BPA-free, replaced it with BPS. Is the replacement, BPS, any better? The letters stand for Bisphenol Substitute, and - you guessed it - it's just a different estrogen-mimicking substance.

ECO: Reusable Stainless Steel

Non-toxic, metal containers are awesome for packing lunch, right? This is certainly true when it comes to stainless steel, which is lighter weight than glass, non-breakable, reusable, and easy to clean. Not all metal is created equal. Too much aluminum in your life can cause a whole host of problems, both short- and long-term.

Also beware, because many pre-packaged foods, such as the juice pouches and shiny metal-looking wrappers used on energy bars, are not actually packaged in metal - it’s metal-looking plastic! Be eco-liciously safe and stick to stainless steel! Consider purchasing stainless steel lunch containers for excellent eco performance.

EEK: Organic Juice Boxes and Snack Packs

Keeping the kiddos hydrated & energy packed is super important as a parent. Grab and go juice boxes and pre-packaged snacks seem like the perfect solution. But juice boxes end up in the landfill. Using a refillable bottle is much better for people and the planet. Plus, you can serve a lot of different drinks - not just juice.

Juice boxes and sacks are not recyclable. These single-use containers are trash because they’re made from either cardboard coated with plastic or layers of aluminum and plastic melded together. In more bad news, even if these containers are labelled BPA-free, beware that they may be leaching bisphenols into your child’s lovely organic juice. Eek!

ECO: Good Ole Fashioned Hand Washing

Most kids eat lunch with their hands, so it’s important, especially during pandemic times, to keep germs at bay by sending your child to school with antibacterial hand sanitizer. Whenever possible encourage your child to use good ole fashioned soap and water to wash up before lunchtime.

Avoid single-use wet wipes commonly made from polyester and other plastic textiles that cannot be recycled and end up the landfill. If you choose to use a hand sanitizer gel, keep a watchful eye on the ingredients buy in bulk. This way you can pack a small vial in your child’s lunchbox and refill it periodically from a larger container, saving from the landfill dozens of plastic containers. When it comes to ingredients, avoid triclosan since it’s a chemical that can lead to antibiotic resistance, hormone disruption, and can actually create a weakened immune system?

EEK: Compostable Bioplastics Cutlery

It sounds eco to choose compostable cutlery for your child’s lunch. Some of the organic, pre- packaged foods tout super cute bio-plastic utensils, which give parents a good feeling that by choosing bioplastics they’re doing the right thing.

But hold on a sec, plastic made from plants can’t be recycled. If the packaging says it’s compostable, find out more information because usually that means it can only be composted in a commercial facility. Who’s going to handle that? Choose to reuse instead. Pick out a stainless-steel spork or bamboo utensil set.

About the Author

Sandra Ann Harris is the author of “Say Goodbye To Plastic: A Survival Guide For Plastic-Free Living” published in October 2020 by Hatherleigh Press. Her company ECOlunchbox, which she founded in 2008, innovates and sells high-quality, plastic-free food container solutions.

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