Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Zero Waste Lunch - Good for the Earth and Your Pocketbook

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Food for Thought - Adding up to a Zero Waste Lunch
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Facts -
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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.
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If you want to give your kids a healthy lunch, brown-bagging it is the way to go...but skip the brown bag, along with those "snack size" and single-serving containers. According to WasteFreeLunches.org, all those juice boxes and cracker packages mean an average of 67 pounds of waste generated by one child each school year, and hundreds of dollars wasted on "convenience" foods.
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Regardless of whether it's basic peanut butter and jelly or something more elaborate on the menu, the first two ingredients of a low-waste lunch are a reusable lunch container and a refillable bottle. There are lots of fun and stylish beverage containers available these days.
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I found a perfect lunch bag at a great low price by Arctic Zone. It also comes with a plastic food container that is stored in the bottom zip-around compartment, perfect for sandwiches. It's large enough to carry a 12 oz beverage container made of stainless steel by Thermos, which has a spring loaded straw feature for easier access, and no spills.
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I have three grade school aged kids, but this idea can also work for adults as well.
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Example of possible savings -
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A Disposable Lunch
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1 egg salad sandwich $1.25
1 yogurt .85
1 granola bar .45
1 apple .30
1 package of carrots and dip .65
3 plastic bags .12
1 juice pouch .35
1 plastic spoon .04
1 paper napkin .01
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TOTAL $4.02 _
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A Waste-free Lunch
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1 egg salad sandwich $1.25
1 serving of yogurt .50
1 serving of granola .35
1 apple .30
1 serving of carrots and dip .25
water 0
cloth napkin 0
stainless steel spoon 0
packaging 0
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TOTAL $2.65
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Disposable Lunch $2.02/day -- $20.10/week -- $723.60/ school year_
Waste-Free Lunch $2.65 /day -- $13.25 /week -- $477.00/school year
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723.60 - 477.00 = $246.60 savings per school year -- per person!!
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10 comments:

Krissy said...

Great post! Yet another reason why I love your blog so much :)

Sabina said...

Thanks Krissy!!

debra said...

That puts it all into perspective. I never figured out the disposable cost but it is huge. Thanks!

Liz said...

Whoa. This is eye opening!

Sabina said...

I had to re-read the data a few times before I really believed it myself!!

I think I'll run off to Paris with the money I can save!! Of course my husband is welcome to run away with me too!!

Hint, hint Mark!!

Thanks for the comment Liz!!

Sarah Jane said...

Oh this is a great post! Though my kids aren't in school yet, it makes me think so much more about snacks and lunch food. In fact, we have even started to learn how to MAKE crackers and hard pretzels in our house, just to save on money, but also the extra space all the packaging takes up! Super great tips! thanks!

corine said...

This is right in true in every way. I've banned plastic bottles, paper towels and paper napkins from my house and the kids lunches. There was a moment of utter panic but now they think it's normal to bring a cloth napkin for their school lunches.

M.Kate said...

Interesting..how much we waste and how much we spent without even realising it. My son has a lunch box and he has to bring back everyday..otherwise, he'll not have food for the nxt day. OK, a bit drastic but also to ensure he brings it home. Love the last picture of a bento lunch, and that food carrier and Kitty kat tupperware...too cute, I want one too!!

Peter said...

Love this information!!!
We started school this past Monday and I have to admit I packed 4 plastic bags in each of their lunches...I cringe to think of it now! I am going this weekend to remedy the situation.
Love to you and the family!!
Sasha

Sabina said...

These facts definitely motivated me to make a simple but impactful change.

Take care - love you!!

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