Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Kids Lunches

My kids had off yesterday for New Years so today was the first day back to school after taking the pledge. We have been fighting the waste issue on the school lunch thing for a while and anyone with little kids knows what I am talking about. For those of you who don't have kids, companies out there basically market EVERYTHING in small easily packable, easily disposable (har de har har) packages. An average kids lunch will have a juice box, bag of chips, granola type bar, and sandwich in a plastic bag(don't even get me started on Lunchables). Generally speaking all of that ends up in the trash either at the end of the lunch or the end of the day.

We re-use all of our plastic sandwich bags by washing and hang drying them so anything like chips (which come from a bulk bag - not so good but better than individual mind you) go into these which come home and get re-used. As for sandwiches, my wife found these Crayola Sandwich containers which really rock. Now I know that they are plastic and note the irony there-in, but these things will get us through many many years of school as they are hefty, and there is a reality to what's going to happen to your kids lunch during the day.

The rest goes into re-usable drink containers which come back home, and Tupperware type containers of which we have accumulated many shapes and sizes over the years. Again plastic, but they last a long time as long as you don't get the cheap wimpy ones. My general test is if you can give it a pretty good squeeze and the top won't come off, it's a goody. They also make "disposable" Tupperware believe it or not. Next time you're at the market, check into this. You'll be shocked at what people think is disposable.

A cool resource in this arena is Laptop Lunchtimes, a newsletter created by two moms who were appalled to learn that the average school kid generates 67 pounds of waste from school lunches every year (that's over 18,000 for the average size elementary school - yikes). You can sign up for it via email and it has some pretty good tips.



Anonymous said...

It's easy to say your blog is quite entertaining. I too discovered your garbage quest from NPR yesterday morning. I’m impressed that in 14 hours the comments for your blog have more than tripled.

With the steady increase of your fan base maybe you should start thinking of getting some cooperate sponsorship... like a free trash compactor from some GE or something ;).

Good luck and happy collecting.

Bio-fool said...

How about a link to Laptop Lunchtimes? A Google search brings up your post

Anonymous said...

I live about 25 minutes from the closest chain grocery store. I have 1.2 acres. I have lived here 18 years, slowly eliminating lawn and replacing it with things that provide habitat and food, even food for us. That first time we that found ourselves sitting at our table eating a meal made totally from food and herbs that we had raised ourselves, we were stunned. Real food tasted pretty good!

How does this relate to garbage? My own experience says eat closer to the source and the packaging is reduced or goes away. I am struggling with the garbage that arrives when I come home from shopping: plastic celery bags, lettuce with little metal twist ties, that sort of thing. I have never had garbage service. Every 4 – 6 weeks we load several 55 gallon garbage bags into little truck and drive to the transfer station fifteen minutes away. There’s also the second trip for recycling the bags of #1, #2 plastic, cardboard, tin cans and glass. My goal is to slow down the whole garbage process; saving the driving and the all resources involved.

This is more than an experiment in saving garbage. It brings to light that to truly create a sustainable existence, packaging needs to be re-engineered with some of the following criteria: reduces the amount of materials used, converts easily to reusable or compostable matter, and produced from sustainable material sources. I have seen “plastic” containers for organic greens made from 100% corn. I’d like to know how they are manufactured and how to properly dispose of them. This packaging does come from a renewable resource, but can it be composted? I’m going to try.

Anonymous said...

this is a leap year.

Lola said...

My friend just forwarded me the link to your blog. What a brilliant idea! Thank you for sharing the "journey". Cheers,

Anonymous said...

just wanted to comment/add to what Smitter said.
I, too, live in the country (only 18 months now) and take my trash to the dump myself. My wife and I have managed to take our 50 gallon can to the dump twice in 18 months. (it's getting full again though). We do take much to the recycling. And, I want to brag, we're building a house - so there's occasional construction trash as well.

Some of our main strategies are buying in bulk at the local store, and simply re-using the plastic bags and twist ties from that shopping. we just throw the bags back in the canvas shopping bag right after getting home and transferring contents to better containers.

A much bigger/better challenge is to work on not *buying* stuff in the first place. Make presents for people, check books out of the library, fix things instead of getting new ones, etc.

Another great thing is second-hand, Goodwill and garage sales. They don't put stupid packaging on their stuff.

Thanks for working on this, and keep up the PR!