School lunches can generate lots of waste .Our friends at Recycling Council of Ontario state that the average student’s lunch generates a total of 30 kilograms of waste per school year, or an average school generates 8500 kilograms (18,700 lbs) of waste per school per year.
One of the greatest lessons we can teach our children is how to reduce waste. The lunch box is the perfect opportunity for parents, students and teachers to join together to instill Zero Waste values and habits.
As a classroom or school initiative, Recycling Council of Ontario has developed a program called The Waste-free Lunch Challenge, where students commit to bringing a waste-free lunch to school during Waste Reduction Week (Oct 19-Oct 23). Students compete with other classes and schools to reduce lunch waste with prizes and recognition is given classes or schools most successful at reducing lunchtime waste. The program has a selection of resource material to support the Challenge including videos, posters and sample newsletters.
According to a study by Minnesota Pollution Control Agency food waste makes up 23% of waste generated at school: there is a need for the impacts of food waste to be discussed both by teachers and parents. Perhaps parents or schools having policies that children bring home food they don’t eat would help with an awareness of changes required.
Disposable snack packaging is often not recyclable or it is contaminated with food contributes to even more waste generated at lunchtime.
This year encourage your school and child to make lunchtime a Waste- Free event.
- involve children in the waste-free lunch goal
- plan lunches with kids
- have a lunch kit or bag that is reusable
- pack food and drinks in reusable containers
- use cloth napkins and reusable cutlery
- pack small portions
- make your own granola bars, cookies, chips or fruit snacks and pack them in reusable wrap
- buy bulk instead of single servings. Buy a large yogurt and put smaller portion in reusable container.
- make sure all food and drink containers can be easily resealed to prevent leakage
- make lunch fun and creative. Try making a bento box lunch or a mason jar lunches for older kids.
- cut up fruit and veggies into small bite size pieces
- to avoid morning rush pack lunches the night before and keep in refrigerator
- give children responsibility. Children can learn food preparation by helping to make lunches and help clean reusable containers.
This school year make lunch waste-free.