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What is a Waste-Free Lunch?

A Waste-Free lunch favors the use of reusable food containers, drink containers, utensils, and napkins. We discourage the use of disposable packaging, such as prepackaged foods, plastic bags, juice boxes and pouches, paper napkins, and disposable utensils. The purpose of this is to create minimal trash from your child’s lunch and to keep as little as possible from being sent to landfills.

Most parents pack lunch items in single-use plastic bags, aluminum foil, or wax paper, or they purchase single-serving items that come in their own disposable package. Admittedly, these products are extremely convenient, but what is the environmental cost to a country that relies so heavily on them? Landfills are full and overflowing. Incinerators pump contaminants into the air. Communities are battling over who will accept the nation’s trash. We all enjoy these conveniences, but few of us are willing to allow new landfills and incinerators to be built in our own backyards.

Much of the trash we generate comes from the packaging on the food we buy, and lunch foods are no exception. In fact, it has been estimated that on average a school-age child using a disposable lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year. That equates to 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for just one average-size elementary school.


Lakeridge Lunchroom Research:
During our lunchroom monitoring, we have seen kids toss whole bananas, whole oranges or FULL bags of fruits or veggies, uneaten sandwiches and even unopened pre-packaged foods such as granola bars, cheese sticks and barely half eaten yogurt containers….all of this is put into the trash by your kids. So we asked the kids “Don’t you want to take that home or eat it later?” and almost all of the kids insisted on throwing the items away anyway.  We watched a boy walk up, open a rather large, reusable container full of apples and toss all of them away uneaten.  When we asked him why he didn’t take them back home, his answer was, “I don’t like apples.”

Talk to your kids about what they realistically can and want to eat during lunch. Have your children bring back EVERYTHING in their lunchbox that they don’t eat. It’s eye opening to see that they only eat one half of the two halves of a sandwich that you packed, or that they only eat 3 slices of that entire apple you cut up that morning. It will help you learn what quantity of food your child really consumes and it will save you LOTS OF MONEY.

Here are easy ways to make a waste-free or compostable lunch:


* BUY ITEMS IN BULK: put them in reusable snack and sandwich bags like ReUsies or reusablebags.

* USE REUSABLE SANDWICH AND SNACK BAGGIES (or compostable WAX PAPER BAGS instead of plastic)

* USE A REFILLABLE DRINK BOTTLE instead of disposables

* USE A CLOTH NAPKIN INSTEAD OF PAPER (or buy recycled paper napkins)

* SKIP THE UTENSILS because there are compostable utensils and reusable silverware in the lunchroom

* SKIP THE FOIL JUICE PACKS (eg. Capri Sun) as they can’t be recycled.

Thanks for your support!  Any questions, please contact Nancy Weil (


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