Five Ways to Go Green When Packing a Lunch
Lunchtime for your children is a special time, a release from their classes and the time to think of their mom or dad as they bite into a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, crunch a carrot or delve into a homemade chocolate chip cookie and sip on the juice included in their lunch boxes. Yes, lunch boxes!
No more do children need to toss their lunch bags into the trash. They simply can carry the boxes back to their classroom and place them back into their backpacks. This is the new green way of thinking.
Some other earth-friendly packaging tips include, number one, avoiding plastic baggies and individually wrapped foods, period! These processed food packages end up in landfills, cause ocean and air pollution, and the foods they contain tend to be far less healthy than what you make with your own hands in your own kitchen. All sorts of stores, from Walmart to Big Lots to Old Time Pottery, offer fun, themed boxes of all shapes and sizes to cart sandwiches, pudding, chips, fruit, carrot sticks or even sushi. These are reusable and make for a wonderful green alternative. As do waxed fabric bags.
The hues of nature can remind kids to think of being friendly to the earth. “I have my children look in our fridge and cabinets and pick every color of the rainbow for their lunch boxes! It’s our fun activity at the beginning of each week,” one local mom says.
If you really want to jazz up the lunch table, offer healthy foods in cool containers, like tiny tacos placed in a segmented container. Simply deposit scoop tortilla chips in one compartment, black beans in another, cheese in one and then, of course, lettuce and tomatoes. Or offer breakfast for lunch, packing hard-boiled eggs, mixed berries, sliced waffles and a dipping sauce made of yummy ingredients like honey, syrup or cream cheese. Use your imagination! Consider a vegan lunch once in a while too, with hummus wraps or bean spreads and a thermos of soup.
Buying lunch ingredients locally is another great way to go green. This not only helps support your community, but also serves to reduce the carbon footprint by cutting down on the distance of shipping. Consider indulging your kids in a fun water bottle with some personality that will encourage them to use it instead of disposable plastic ones that pile up in landfills.
Another way to promote a green lunch routine involves your children’s active participation. Help them understand that growing and producing our food require cultivation and care—just like growing green grass or a garden in the backyard. Then build a compost pile at home and encourage your kids to get involved by bringing home their apple cores, cherry pits and orange peels from lunch to add to it.
A good friend of mine works at Powell Gardens and says, “Each day, we try to emulate our true love of the earth and we show our visitors, young and old, the benefits of recycling, composting, resurfacing and the good of the earth. Our children will learn from us how to keep this planet truly green.”
Looking for resources? ChooseMyPlate.gov is a good source for children to learn more about food groups, healthy choices and eating and going green. NationalGeographic.com is another good site to show your young ones about going green.
Earth Day Ideas:
- Serve eco-snacks. Tell your kids they’re rabbits and mix raisins, sunflower seeds, peanuts, almonds and chocolate chips into a container.
- Take a walk!
- Plan an Earth Day run on your block and have everyone run or walk in honor of the planet. Along the way, everybody can bring a bag to collect any trash.
- Read some “green reads” such as The Lorax or The Giving Tree.
- Plant a garden.
- Plan an eco-swap. Have your kids call their friends and tell them to bring a bag of clothes to swap. Everyone goes home with new clothes.
- Protect our planet. Remind your kids to turn off lights and faucets and to recycle. Explain to them your family’s impact on the planet.
An avid outdoors girl, Judy Goppert live in Lee’s Summit and enjoys all seasons, especially summer. She enjoys drawing on her personal experiences to write about the nuances of everything wonderful about life