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Low Waste Lunches

By Guest Contributor Nikki Scott


It’s that time of year again! Some love it and others hate it. It doesn't care about your feelings because it happens whether you like it or not. It’s August baby, and back-to-school is a few weeks away! While you are busy tackling school supplies and other necessities, it may be hard to also stay on track with being environmentally friendly. It might seem like an overwhelming task bringing sustainability to your your child’s lunch, so I’ve made it easy for you by creating a small guide to help you with upcoming school year lunches.


The biggest opportunity you have to reduce waste in your child’s lunchbox is by using containers in place of plastic bags. Involve your child in the process by bringing them shopping with you. Not only does this create a fun and positive experience for your child, but you can also see if they are capable of opening and closing the containers without help. 


One of the most popular and convenient options is the bento box and there are no shortage of brands on the market. These cute boxes offer separate compartments that are all contained in one larger box. It’s like having a number of small containers without all the individual containers. Each brand has different features and drawbacks so it is important to decide what you are looking for in a box. 


When my son started school, I wanted something plastic free and was prepared to compromise and lose some of the features that plastic offered. The biggest drawback stainless steel faces is that it is not leak proof, and in order to create a leak proof compartment you need to buy separate containers...kind of defeats the point huh? Luckily my mom brain was hard at work one day when I realized that a beeswax wrap can create a tight seal over the smaller compartments of stainless steel boxes. Beeswax loves to stick to plastic and metal, so it grabs the edges of the compartments extremely well. You can send sliced watermelon without the worry of a soggy ham and cheese sandwich. 


Speaking of beeswax wraps, they are a great addition to any lunchbox. They are so versatile, you can even fold them up into a handy snack pouch or line the bottom of your stainless steel containers. Beeswax wraps are also ideal for wrapping up sandwiches or tortilla wraps. There is no need for plastic wrap or baggies as they will keep the sandwich just as fresh as their disposable counterparts. Waxology sells a bento package of beeswax wraps with sizes specific to most of the popular brands of stainless steel boxes, as well as other assorted sizes to fit your individual needs. 

Another great way to eliminate waste from the lunchbox is by cutting down on those pesky packaged snacks. They are so convenient and even I find myself using them from time to time. There is nothing bad about enjoying your favourite packaged cereal bar, but switch it up by making your own soft cookies for the lunch box. Most of the time when you make your own version of packaged snacks, you have the opportunity to make them a bit healthier too! You can control what goes into the mix, which is really nice if you have food allergies. 


Balance your consumption, but don't cut it out completely unless you are ready to. Instead of sending single use, individually packaged things like dips, yogurt, or hummus, get a small condiment container and fill it from a larger container. If you are not worried about cross contamination, take advantage of bulk food stores that allow you to bring your own container. I was surprised with all the delicious, fun, and nutritious food that Bulk Barn carries, and they have a reusable container program in place. 

Remember that sustainability is a personal journey and we are all at different points in ours. Don’t compare yourself to others and stay focused on your own goals. We are all in this together!