This week at the local elementary school, students are pitching in to help the environment by pitching less into the garbage can at lunchtime. The Garbage Reduction Challenge is part of the upcoming Earth Day festivities, which make kids aware of the impact of their waste on the environment.
I’ve been participating in the weigh-in, starting last week when we did a benchmark weigh-in. Typically all grades produced about 35 lbs. of garbage per lunch period.
This week kids are encouraged to bring reusable food and drink containers and cloth napkins. Did you know, that during an average year, Americans use about 6 napkins per day. By using just one less napkin per day, we can reduce a billion (with a B) pounds of landfill waste each year.
Now because we’re weighing the garbage and it’s not like we’re looking at the biodegradability of each piece of waste, the biggest factor in this “experiment” is food waste. Think about it. A plastic bags weighs almost nothing and an apple weighs about 1/2 lb. BTW, I just weighed one to get that figure.
The crazy thing is, food waste impacts us immediately. We’re throwing away money and nourishment. If it’s our kid’s lunch, we’re unable to know what they’re eating and what they’re wasting.
The best ways to prevent food waste in kid’s lunches are:
1. Have a talk with your child and ask what they are eating – finishing and not finishing at school. Don’t put them on the defense; keep it casual and objective.
2. Cut back on their lunch by skipping the snack or giving only half a sandwich. See if your child says anything. One light lunch isn’t going to sabotage their school performance. If anything they’ll come home ready for a snack.
3. Number the items in their lunch so that they eat the perishables like fruits and veggies first. So if they don’t finish, what is left behind will be the non-perishables that they can save to eat as their afternoon snack.
4. Reusable containers cut back on garbage waste but they also limit food waste. If you open a package of crackers and don’t finish it, you’ll throw it out because the open contents will go all over. There usually isn’t a way to reclose individual snack packs. With a snap-lid reusable container you can – saving both the container and its remaining contents from turning into waste.
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