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Back-to-School Brainstorming – Greening Your School and Waste-Free Lunch Ideas

Going green and reducing waste go hand in hand. And what better way to start teaching kids about the importance of the environment than by showing them how to reduce, reuse, and recycle wherever they are—even at school. A waste-free lunch can go a long way towards helping the environment.


At Modern Kids Design, we like thinking up little life hacks that can improve our day-to-day lives and any that help the environment is an added plus. With back to school upon us, we turned our sights to the school environment. With so many children filling out worksheets and bringing lunch, we thought it was a great place to teach our kids about being green no matter where they are.


Recycling At the School Level


While some schools may already be recycling, there are still many who have yet to jump on the bandwagon. It may take some work to put in place a recycling program, but the educational and environmental benefits will be well worth the effort.


Depending on where your school is located, you may need to do some legwork to get a program started. First, start by broaching the topic at a PTA or Home and School association meeting. Find out if anyone has tried to start a program and what the results were. Any information you can gather may save you time later. See if anyone is interested in joining your efforts or if a committee can be started.


Once you’ve drummed up some interest, it will be necessary to learn about your local recycling company. Some may be willing to pick up school recycling for free. You may also be able to get your municipality, township, or city to help cover the costs of a recycling pickup. Fundraising may be necessary, which is a great place to get the kids involved. They can help brainstorm, make flyers, educate other students, and create interest for a recycling program.


Once a pickup has been decided upon, it’s time to get the teachers on board! Spreading the word (and the new recycling bins) can be fun and will offer the teachers an opportunity to discuss the three Rs with their students.


Waste-Free Lunches


Imagine all the juice boxes, individual snack packs, and sandwich bags that are brought into a school in a pile: it is literally a mountain of trash. While sandwich bags can generally be recycled, most schools don’t have the ability to rinse them out and take them to a plastic bag recycling center. Rather than depending on kids and the school system to sort through and manage the mounds of trash that make their way to school daily, why not opt for a waste-free lunch?


Making a waste-free lunch can be easy. With a bit of planning, you and your kids can prep components ahead of time so it doesn’t make that before school crunch even tighter. Plus, involving the kids is a great way to educate them about the effect of trash on the environment.


Prepping a Waste-Free Lunch


In order to pack nutritious, waste-free lunches, you’ll want some handy containers that can safely travel to school and back and a nice lunch box that will last the year (at least). If you want to pack snacks ahead of hand, you’ll want to purchase extra containers. We like stainless steel containers because they are durable, they don’t contain BPA, and they can hold a variety of different snacks safely and effectively. In addition, a few ice packs can be helpful for transporting cold foods.



If you decide to pack snacks ahead of time, have the kids help measure out portions into their containers. Stainless steel containers can easily hold yogurt, apple slices, pretzels, and more. Some stainless steel containers even have compartments so you can easily pack some celery sticks and peanut butter into the same container.



Juice boxes and milk cartons are a large component of lunch waste. To reduce waste, consider sending your children to school with reusable water bottles. Some water bottles are even good for transporting juice—just check the label first and be sure to have the kids clean them immediately when they get home.


Sandwiches and Meals

Ingenious moms and dads have made scrapping plastic sandwich bags even easier. Thanks to their inventiveness, we have multiple options for packaging sandwiches. Whether you prefer an oilcloth sandwich bag or a sandwich holder that unfolds into a napkin, there’s a reusable option for you. In addition, bento-style stainless steel lunch kits make packing sandwiches and lunch trays easy and fun.


We’re excited for another great school year and plan to test (and share!) more waste-free lunch ideas. Do you have any waste-free tricks up your sleeve? As always, feel free to reach out and let us know your thoughts and let us know what you’d like to read about on the blog. Thanks for reading!

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