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Eco-Friendly Ways to Package Your Kid’s School Lunch

Fave Lunch Box

Packing your child’s lunch allows you to save money, control (hopefully) what your child eats and help influence their dietary habits, all while trying to avoid the notorious school cafeteria. The traditional brown bags have been replaced with all sorts of cool lunch boxes to choose from. As a mom of two, I’ve been through my share of lunch boxes. My most favorite of all are the Pottery Barn Bento Boxes  and the Easy Lunch Boxes. They come in fun colors, they are easy for kid’s to open, and most of all, they present the child with a variety of foods to eat in whatever order they please. These eco-friendly lunch boxes also help to eliminate wasteful paper products. Finding a green solution to the school lunch is easier than ever, and because eco-friendly choices are all the rage, these options are sure to make your child a school lunch trendsetter.

Bento Boxes

The Japanese tradition of ornate lunches comes with a regimented ratio of veggies to rice and protein, but you don’t have to stick with a Japanese lunch to take advantage of these adorable and reusable boxes. Bright colors, compartments and dip containers make lunch fun for your little one, and eliminate the need for plastic baggies, cellophane wrap or aluminum foil. There are scads of bento boxes on the market with kid-friendly designs, many of which are lead, phthalate, BPA and PVC-free.

Include Cloth Napkins

Sure, there are stacks of paper napkins available in every cafeteria, but that doesn’t mean that your child has to contribute to the wasteful use of paper, especially when there’s a good chance that it won’t be recycled. Instead of relying on the paper fare at school, pack your child’s lunch with a cloth napkin. Soak them in oxygenated cleaner and toss them in with your towels when you do laundry.

Pack Sustainable Utensils

Plastic forks and spoons are easy to toss after a single use, but they’ll almost certainly end up in a landfill where they’ll take decades to break down. Instead of packing disposable cutlery, opt for fun and kid-friendly utensils in their favorite color. Younger kids may appreciate utensils with images of their favorite cartoon characters, but keep the tastes of older kids in mind and skip anything that might be too “kiddish” to be cool.

Choose Cooling Methods Carefully

Keeping cold foods cold to inhibit bacterial growth is one of the primary rules of food safety, but the neon-colored gel that you throw in the freezer every night may be laden with toxic chemicals and are wrapped in decidedly un-green plastics. Opt for non-toxic, biodegradable ice packs that will break down if they end up in a landfill and aren’t full of chemicals you can’t pronounce.

Make Room for Reusable Bottles

Packaged juice boxes and pouches are convenient, but their packaging is wasteful. They also can’t be diluted to reduce sugar content, and some brands of pouch drinks have been reported to ferment or even grow mold that is obscured by the opaque packaging. Instead of throwing a box or pouch in with your child’s lunch, opt for a reusable bottle. Stainless steel options are cool enough for even the most style-conscious kids. Klean Kanteen & Nalgene Kid’s Water Bottles are my favorite.

Choose Organic Foods

When you choose organic, sustainable and locally grown produce, you’re not only eliminating the risk of pesticide contamination and the chances of your child ingesting genetically modified foods, you’re also doing your part to help the environment. Locally grown produce isn’t trucked in across the country, which reduces the carbon footprint left by trucks and shipping methods. Buying organic food can feel somewhat overwhelming and it can also increase your grocery bill. As a work-from-home mom, I do my best to buy what is best for my family, but also stick to our household budget. So, when it comes to buying organic, I stick with the ‘Dirty Dozen’.

It also helps to talk to your kid’s when making their lunch about what organic foods are. Keeping an open dialogue can help your child understand the importance of organic.


I really hope this post helps when it comes to packing your child’s lunch. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments or on my Facebook Page and I would love to answer them!
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3 Responses

  1. KNatGU said on September 11, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    I’ve been contemplating a run to goodwill to score some mismatched silverware to send not only in the kiddo’s lunch boxes but in mine as well. So that when random fork goes missing, the next time you have a dinner for 8 people you have all the ‘good’ stuff available. For awhile I kept loosing steak knives that I bring to work to cut my after lunch fruit with.

  2. Kelly Lester of EasyLunchboxes said on September 12, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    Hi Estela – Thank you so much for your enthusiasm for my EasyLunchboxes! Great post!

    • Estela - Weekly Bite said on September 13, 2013 at 11:39 am

      Thanks Kelly! We love EasyLunchBoxes 🙂