Zero Waste Back-to-School Lunches
Save money while you go green with our tips for reducing packaging and food waste at lunch time!
Going green can save you some 'green' - the average lunch made with disposable juice boxes, ziploc bags, and packaged food can cost up to twice as much as the average Zero Waste lunch!
Reducing food and packaging waste in school lunches can help encourage a conservation mindset in children and teens that can translate into habits that last a lifetime.
Food waste and excess packaging is a huge issue in schools. The average K-12 student generates 67 pounds of lunch waste a year! Multiply that by the number of school children in the US, and you can see what a big problem we have on our hands. The USDA National School Lunch Program generates $1.2 billion in food waste every year - what does this communicate to young people about our priorities?
OKAY, I'M ON BOARD WITH THIS! SO WHAT DO I DO NOW?
We've got the tools you need for plastic-free, zero waste work and school lunches - let's first 'think inside the box' and get rid of all of those throwaway plastic baggies and plastic film.
GETTING RID OF PLASTIC WRAP IN LUNCH BOXES
Beeswrap (pictured at right) is ideal for wrapping sandwiches, cut veggies, apple slices, cookies, and more. It can go wherever your Saran wrap used to go! Here's all the details:
What is Bee's Wrap® made of?
Bee's Wrap is made of GOTS-certified organic cotton, sustainably sourced beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin. This combination of ingredients creates a malleable food wrap that can be used again and again.
How is it used?
Use the warmth of your hands to wrap Bee’s Wrap around a piece of food or over a bowl or casserole dish. When Bee's Wrap cools — within seconds — it holds its seal. Use your Bee’s Wrap to wrap cheese, vegetables, bread, fruit, fresh herbs, and baked goods. Bee’s Wrap is not recommended for use with raw meat.
How do I care for my Bee's Wrap?
Wash your Bee’s Wrap in cool water with a mild dish soap. (Avoid sources of heat, such as hot water and microwaves.) Air dry, fold and store in a drawer or in a basket on the counter. The beeswax and jojoba oil have antibacterial qualities that help to keep your food fresh and allow you to use the Bee's Wrap again and again.
Can I use Bee's Wrap in the freezer?
Yes! Bee's Wrap keeps food fresh in the freezer for 2-3 weeks. Since your wraps are naturally breathable, we recommend you check on your food after this time to ensure its freshness. Great for freezing pizza dough and baked goods.
How long does Bee's Wrap last?
Bee's Wrap lasts for up to a year with proper care and regular usage. You'll know your wrap has reached the end of its useful life in the kitchen when it has worn thin and soft and has trouble sticking to itself. At this time, you can cut your wrap into strips and add to your compost pile, or use as a natural and effective fire starter.
Where to get them: https://www.pinkelephantproducts.com/product-page/lunchtime-wrap-set or at our retail store at 9413 John R in Detroit.
GETTING RID OF ZIPLOC BAGS IN LUNCH BOXES
Ziploc bags are just another example of wasteful, single-use plastics. Ditch them with these reusable bags! We've got them in 6 different patterns kids will love (pictured below) and in different sizes to meet all of your former Ziploc needs! Also available in clear and geometric patterns for packing grown-up lunches or snacks-on-the-go. Bags feature: Leak-proof, air-tight “lock” seal design
Reusable food safe, BPA free Gusset bags stand upright for everyday use and storage needs
Label them with dry-erase market, then erase and label again!
Where to get them: https://www.pinkelephantproducts.com/product-page/reusable-lunch-bag-set or at our retail store at 9413 John R in Detroit.
GETTING RID OF THROWAWAY PLASTIC UTENSILS
These nifty bamboo utensils (pictured below) come in sizes for kids and teens/adults so the whole family can have reusables on the go! They're made with beautiful, durable and renewable bamboo. Perfect to take anywhere, anytime, for play dates, picnics, day trips, campouts or out to eat. The kids sets are appropriate for ages 18 months and up, and the adult set comes with chop sticks, too.
BPA Free and Phthalate-Free
CPSC Tested & Approved
Won't stain or absorb flavors
Hand wash preferred with soap and water, but will tolerate the dishwasher.
Made from renewable materials! These utensil holders give plastic bottles a second shot at a useful life – and an opportunity to stay out of our landfills. Made out of RPET (recycled PET plastic), we like to call it “RePEaT” because it lets plastic reincarnate into something kinder and gentler.
Where to get them: https://www.pinkelephantproducts.com/product-page/kids-bamboo-utensil-set or our retail store at 9413 John R in Detroit.
GETTING RID OF PLASTIC STRAWS
We've got stainless steel straws plus brushes to get the them clean! They are durable, scratch and rust resistant, and dishwasher safe. Available in two sizes, Regular Size and Smoothie Size for frozen beverages and smoothies (these straws are wider for thicker beverages).
Where to get them: https://www.pinkelephantproducts.com/product-page/stainless-steel-drink-straws or our retail store at 9413 John R in Detroit
GETTING RID OF LUNCH NAPKINS, WIPES, AND PAPER TOWELS
These napkins are handmade in the USA of 100% cotton flannel in fun and graphic prints - ideal for packing in a lunchbox or using them at home. Each napkin is 1 ply and measures approximately 7"x8". They're machine-washable, and edges are serged for durability and to prevent fraying. The set even comes with an eco-friendly word find activity on the label for your kiddo to enjoy!
Where to get them: https://www.pinkelephantproducts.com/product-page/lunch-sized-cloth-napkins or our retail store at 9413 John R in Detroit.
LUNCH BOXES AND BAGS
We've got stainless steel lunch boxes, Bento boxes, and lunch bags, too. I'm a big fan of stainless steel - it doesn't get moldy or smelly and doesn't stain like soft-sided lunch bags and boxes can. You don't have to worry about liquids seeping into the material.
Where to get them: Stainless steel boxes https://www.pinkelephantproducts.com/product-page/stainless-steel-lunch-set-w-leak-proof-lids
Stainless steel food containers https://www.pinkelephantproducts.com/product-page/stainless-steel-lunch-containers
REDUCING LANDFILLED FOOD FROM SCHOOL LUNCHES
We offer in-store composting - no reason to throw away that apple core and carrot peels when you can bring it to us! Many schools are getting on board with reducing food waste by setting up 'sharing tables' for items kids don't want to eat and switching to compostable, or better yet reusable, food trays. As a matter of fact, the Royal Oak School District has switched to compostable lunch trays and our composting partner Midtown Composting is helping them close the loop and get those trays returned to the soil, not the landfill. Go to wastefreelunches.org for more information about food waste in schools and how you can reduce lunchtime waste. And remember, you can implement waste-free lunch principles at work, too! Click here for more information about our composting program.
Sustainability tip: Going green does NOT mean throwing away things you already have and buying new stuff! That's consumerism, not sustainability. Use up or donate your plastic wrap, plastic baggies, and any other 'throwaway' items before buying anything new. Check out our recycling program for items that can't go in your curbside bin - we can probably recycle those throwaway items after you're done using them! Click here to get more information and a downloadable list of what we take in our recycling program.