by Katy Killilea
Yes, you’re busy. And no, you’re not a self-righteous environmentalist freak (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But you can still pack a trash-free lunch for your child. And you might even have to if your child’s school has “trash-free” lunch days.
I know how I feel about this: EVERY day should include a trash-free lunch, and my son should eat every morsel and come home raving about how tasty it was. The reality, however, is that I’m afraid much of his food winds up in the trash. And I use more milk boxes and pre-packaged yogurts and popcorns than I’d ever admit on my application to the Green Mommies League. However, I usually try to pack a less trashy lunch.
This is what I’m glad to have on hand:
1. A reusable water bottle. There are so many choices: From Spiderman to skate-punk, and mermaids to cartoony Swiss animals (Little Siggs). It’s best to have a reusable container dedicated to your child’s drinking water so it won’t pick up other flavors. Write your child’s name on it with a Sharpie and don’t let your spouse leave it to rot under the passenger seat.
2. A reusable juice or milk container. We use the cylindrical 7-ounce bottles from Rubbermaid (I attached a picture). This is both a huge cost and trash savings! You can mix your own juice-water blend or your own chocolate milk with as much or as little syrup as you deem fit. Very satisfying for the sugar-control lunch packer in the family. I have been using the same ones for ages—they really last. Rubbermaid containers seem to be available everywhere: Target, Shaw’s, Stop & Shop. They are even available in the shape of chubby little bears. (see photo above)
3. Some way to contain and keep sandwichs fresh. If you are not ready to give up disposable bags, try the middle path: use Ziplocs when you cannot bear another thing to wash but have reusable options handy. I have already come clean as a Tupperware fetishist. (Tupperware makes the classic sandwich box, pictured.) Wrap-n-mat.com makes an oilcloth and velcro number that wraps the sandwich and opens up to a placemat. (see photo above) I do not yet own any, but a girl can dream, can’t she?
4. Lots of four-ounce containers. Again, these are available everywhere and in many iterations. I got mine from Tupperware. They don’t wear out so I never get to shop for more, natch. Four-ounce containers are perfect for yogurt (to which you can add as much or as little fruit/sugar/honey as you think your child should consume), crackers, cheese cubes, pasta, sliced fruit, cookies, popcorn, Pringles, chocolate truffles, marshmallows. Remember, you don’t have to fill them with granola or hummus and support Ralph Nader’s candidacy (although you well might!)—junk foods fit too!