Create a Litterless Lunch

Photo: Kids Konserve offers stylish, complete lunch kits—for kids and adults
Make your kids’ lunch waste-free.

Litterless lunches at school are the new recycling: if your kids don’t do it, it’s bound to reflect badly on you. And for good reason. On average, a school-age child with a disposable lunch generates approximately 30 kg (67 lbs.) of waste per school year. That means that if your child has 25 kids in his/her class, they are producing 737 kg (1,625 lbs.) of waste each year. Doesn't a car weigh less than that? Just imagine what a whole school produces.

But litterless lunches aren't just for kids. Adults are catching on. No more brown-bagging it—now we're lunch-bagging it. Here's how to catch the wave.

What’s In:

  • Cloth napkins
  • Stainless-steel cutlery
  • Food-storage containers
  • Lunch bags
  • Water bottles (BPA-free, of course!)

What’s Out:

  • Paper napkins
  • Plastic cutlery
  • Individual-portion packaging
  • Brown bags
  • Juice boxes

Reusable lunch bags are a must

They don't rip and you can use them day after day. Litterless lunches require a bit more space, so look for a lunch bag that can hold three or four food-storage containers and a water/juice bottle.

For picky eaters

If you child has the attitude that "different food groups must not touch before entering my mouth,” we recommend a Bento Lunch Box from Lunchboxes.com, which guarantees that all its insulated lunch bags are lead free.

USD$19.95 and up
Online at lunchboxes.com

Bottle it

We like the fact that Tetra Paks and glass bottles are recyclable, but we like something that's reusable even more. Klean Kanteen has a line of cool-looking water bottles that are durable (think water bottle meets fire extinguisher), light and, because they're lined with aluminum, don't leech any extra flavours or toxins into your drink. There's a style and size for everyone, from kids to hip yoga mamas.

USD $15 and up
Online at kleankanteen.com or various Canadian retailers (use the store locator).

Storage solutions

Food-grade, non-leaching stainless steel is the container of choice these days. Brands such as Lunch Bots come in a huge array of shapes and sizes, with leak-proof lids. And stainless steel containers are also lighter and less dangerous than glass.

$9 and up
Online at lifewithoutplastic.com/boutique/ or at most kitchen stores.

Hot pot

For soup or warm pasta, forget about the old-fashioned Thermos. The company’s Foogo line of vacuum-insulated stainless-steel models are BPA-free and lightweight, with only a few food-safe plastic plastic components.
$15 and up
At most grocery stores and department stores.

One-stop shopping

There are tons of concerned Moms and eco-preneurs making a living off of litterless lunch gear. U.S.-based Kids Konserve offers some stylish, complete lunch kits—for kids and adults alike—that include a cotton sack, stainless steel containers and beverage bottle, cloth napkins and food cozy and a recycled aluminum name tag.

Online at kidskonserve.com
For more information on litterless lunches, go to wastefreelunches.org or lunchwithoutwaste.com. These sites have good information, and they even provide tips on how to set up a litterless-lunch program at your child's school or at your workplace.