10 Ways to Pack Your Kids a More Sustainable Lunch

School’s back in session, and if you've opted out of the cafeteria plan, you’re probably already wondering how to keep those packed lunches fresh and exciting. Another consideration of today’s aware parent is sustainability. Sending kids to school with lunches that just add to the nation’s landfill isn’t necessary these days.

Let’s take a look at some of the more innovative ways to green up your meal plans with these expert tips!

  1. Ditch the disposable. Brown paper lunch bags are a no-no, especially when there are so many adorable, reusable lunch products on the market. Everything from your cutlery to sandwich bags, to napkins, can be bought for multiple uses from companies that specialize in sustainable wares.
  2. Give them what they want. No, you don’t have to indulge desires for all cookies and cake, but giving kids flavors that they enjoy will help them eat more – and waste less.
  3. Skip individual packaging. That tiny bag of crackers is cute, but it’s more expensive than buying in bulk – and causes more packaging waste, too. Pre-portion tiny bags of snacks in your own reusable bags at the beginning of the week. You’ll love what it does for the environment – and your wallet.
  4. Feature fresh. Processed foods take more energy and ingredients to produce; plus, they are not usually as healthy. Give your kids the best in nutrition and flavor with whole foods that come ready-to-eat, such as fruits and veggies!
  5. Buy local. Items grown and distributed near your home don’t use as much fuel or resources to transport. They are usually fresher, too.
  6. Get seasonal. Learn to pick fruits and veggies that are fresh, right now. These are more eco-friendly for the reasons mentioned above.
  7. Go organic. Fruit and veggies grown without pesticides are not only better for our Earth, but they usually take better, too. It’s possible to buy them for just about the same price as their standard counterparts, provided you go the local and seasonal route.
  8. Help kids compost. Rather than throwing the apple cores and orange peels in the trash with the other school food waste, pack a small container for them to bring those treasures home. They can go into your family compost bin to produce good things for the soil!
  9. Plan alternatives. When reusable options aren’t available, make sure your child knows how to handle disposables. If they buy a carton of milk from school, for example, have them inquire about a recycling bin or see if it can be brought back for home recycling.
  10. Welcome water. Water is the best way to hydrate during the day, and with a reusable water bottle brought from home, it’s super sustainable, too. Make water more delicious by mixing it with a tad bit of freshly-squeezed fruit juice, like lemons, limes, or oranges.

School lunch can get tiring after a bit, but these green tips guarantee a fresh approach toward lunches. Remember that you aren’t just doing things that are good for the world, but you are also encouraging healthy and sustainable practices in your child. These years are important for them to learn the habits that will help them make good choices in adulthood, too.