It’s wonderful that Calgary has a blue-cart recycling program, but let’s not forget that reducing waste is still the most important of the three Rs. Applying some common sense and imagination to the lunches we pack for ourselves and our children is one of the best ways we can cut back on home, school and workplace throwaway trash. Considering that a “normal” child’s lunch generates about 30 kilograms of waste during the school year, there’s lots of room for improvement.
Start by banishing the brown paper bag and its spendthrift accomplices — plastic wrap, aluminum foil, plastic baggies, and paper napkins. The same goes for the single-serving juice boxes and individual yogurts. Instead stock up on bulk items that can be divided into reusable single-serving containers. According to a study from the University of Florida, per ounce, single-servings are up to 50% more expensive and can generate twice as much waste as products packaged in bulk (1). Add a classy flourish with cloth napkins, reusable cutlery, a stainless steel water bottle and a Thermos flask for those chilly days.
Have you heard of Abeego reusable beeswax food wrap? They describe their product as "where the peel" leaves off. The wrap protects food from air and moisture and lets it breathe just like nature’s lemon peel, onion skin and cheese rind. The money you save can be put towards some healthy lunch treats such as some delicious Okanagan organic apples or some organic dark chocolate. And check out the Kids U-Konserve line of mix-and-match sustainable lunch kits and the stainless steel filtered water bottles.
And be sure to look at what you already have! Once you finish that jar of tomato sauce, clean the jar and use it for mason jar salads or your smoothie. Think like a frugal grandmother and enjoy a waste-free lunch that keeps your blue-cart lean and your family well-fed!