Tomorrow is Amalia’s first day of Kindergarten and my day (probably) of sobbing quietly while looking at her baby pictures.
Jokes aside, it felt like the perfect time to bring back my sustainability challenges with the help of my friends at Sustainable Westport, a local group dedicated to making our town more, well, sustainable. They are so knowledgable and have a ton of great tips for green-ifying everyday activities.
If you send your child with lunch most days of the year, making a few small changes from this list will make a huge impact on the amount of waste you produce.
1. Use Reusable Sandwich and Snack Bags
This is a big one! Cut your dependence on zip-top bags and invest in reusable sandwich and snack bags. There are options made of coated fabric, which can be machine washed, or silicone, which are freezer-safe, microwave-safe and dishwasher-friendly. While reusable bags are more expensive, they will save you money in the long run and will help reduce plastic waste!
Stasher Bags are great but if you’re looking for something more budget-friendly, the Simple Modern bags are awesome and zip open and closed. You can get one to match your water bottle (linked below) too.
2. Provide Reusable Water (or Juice) Bottles
If you haven’t already, invest in reusable water bottles for your child to greatly reduce the amount of waste your child creates each year.
We like this Simple Modern bottle for Amalia because it keeps water cold and doesn’t spill. There are a ton of colors and designs so you can find something for every kid. I’ve also found that the Camelback bottles are the only ones that never leak when closed. They don’t keep water cold but they’re great.
3. Consider Other Reusable Wraps and Containers
Instead of plastic wrap, tin foil or plastic containers, try reusable beeswax-covered cloth as an alternative to plastic and foil wrap. Stainless steel containers are also a great option that come in a variety of sizes. They are durable, last forever, and you don’t have to worry about chemicals leaching into your child’s food. Get creative with how you can use already purchased containers to pack your meals.
4. Pack Your Own Utensils
Invest in a set of lunch utensils to be sent to and from school with your child. Plastic utensils cannot be recycled, so they end up in the trash. Avoid contributing to this waste by bringing your own or purchasing biodegradable utensils instead.
We bought this cute utensil set for Kindergarten because it easily fits into Amalia’s lunchbox.
5. Use Washable Napkins
Skip disposable napkins or paper towels and opt for washable napkins instead. They can be tossed in the washing machine instead of throwing them away and adding waste to the landfill. Try using these at home as well, if you aren’t already, to reduce your paper waste!
This striped set is so sweet.
6. Avoid Pre-Packaged Foods
All parents appreciate the ease of individually wrapped goldfish bags or applesauce pouches. When you can, purchase items in bulk and use your reusable snack containers instead of purchasing pre-packaged foods. By cutting out a few pre-packaged options, you will greatly reduce your overall contribution to package waste.
Just a note that we don’t plan to cut all pre-packaged foods in our house because my kids like pouches and other items that you can’t get in bulk, but we are definitely conscious of buying in bulk when we can.
If possible, try skipping meat in your child’s lunches on Mondays. Most kids love a good sunbutter and jelly or bagel “fun” lunch. Going meatless for lunch even one day per week can make a big environmental (and health) difference. If you can’t skip the meat, consider purchasing local, organic meats. These meats are healthier, taste better, and also help reduce your overall carbon footprint.
8. Zero Food Waste
Whether it’s composting your lunch scraps or getting creative with how you use food scraps, practicing zero-waste cooking is an important component of reducing overall waste. Buying locally sourced food and produce is a great way to make sure your food is sustainably harvested.