stephmodo: School Lunches: Going Trash Free

School Lunches: Going Trash Free

• 28 September 2010

by Guest Blogger Rebecca Mudrick

Moving to a trash-free school (or work) lunch is a simple and effective way to reduce our environmental impact. My monkeys bring lunch to school, and we decided to move to a trash-free lunch before the 2009 - 2010 school year. Like most changes, the switch from ziploc baggies wasn't without a challenge or two. Here are some resources to look into, if you also decide to go the trash-free route:

Laptop Lunches: I bought a set of laptop lunch bento boxes for each of my boys. These boxes are BPA-free, super sturdy and seem to work well for a lot of people. I found it a challenge to fit the food in the containers each day (our sandwiches never seem to fit well) and also a struggle to wash everything each night. My friends who have made these work have two sets of bento boxes for each child so that one is always clean each day.

Snack Taxi: Snack Taxi makes reusable bags for snacks and sandwiches and are not only easy and convenient, but come in awesome fabrics. My boys each have an insulated lunch bag and a combination of snack taxi bags and BPA-free plastic containers seem to be working well for us. If we used a snack taxi bag for crackers/pretzles then I'll simply shake it out before I refill it. Sandwich bags get machine washed between each use - especially if they housed a sandwich with meat or cheese.

Water bottles: This year, I looked in to the small sized stainless steel water bottles by Klean Kanteen - they are the perfect size for packing in a lunch. But the price point was high, so we opted for the slightly cheaper Camelbak Kids BPA-free bottles. They're too big to fit in our lunch boxes, but my monkeys love them. I'm curious to see how the bite-valve holds up ...

Waxed paper bags: in the event that we don't have clean containers ready, I keep a box of waxed paper bags on hand. I buy mine at Whole Foods, but you can also buy them on Amazon. It's nice to know that if I do need to bag something in a pinch, I can use something that won't take 500 years to decompose in a landfill.

Other noteworthy resources:

Lock & Lock: my friend Jamie (who is the Queen of fun, healthy kid lunches) uses these containers and they look like a great option - the price point is awesome!

Pottery Barn Kids: Pottery Barn Kids makes a great BPA-free one piece bento box. My monkeys would die and go to heaven if I paired this box with the Star Wars lunch bag.

Goodbyn: Our local Whole Foods carries Goodbyn Lunchboxes and they look awesome. My boys would love decorating the boxes with the provided stickers and I lolve that you can recycle your Goodbyn box when you're done with it.

Do you pack a trash-free lunch each day? What has/has not worked for you? Do you have any favorite products to recommend?

Rebecca also blogs at Overexposed and Darling Art.

image by Rebecca Mudrick


  1. Thanks for the great ideas! I just got that darth vadar lunch box at downeast for $4.00. Ethan will be one happy boy when he sees that Christmas morning.

  2. We use the Lock & Lock system at our home... and it is GREAT! Our general rule (since there are 4 small square containers) is 2 fruits, 1 veggie and 1 small sandwich. I feel like my girls are eating very healthy meals that are good for the environment. I first saw this system on


  3. Love the Snack Taxi bags! I will have to start my collection today!!

  4. I have the 16 oz. version of the Camelback Better Bottle and I LOVE it. Seriously, I talk people into buying it. The perfect water bottle! Love the hooked pit to protect the mouthpiece and hold the bottle with; love that it fits in cupholders, love that it really, really doesn't leak, and you can drink from it while lying down if you need to (say, while you're in labor). I've used mine constantly (literally; night and day, since I have a newborn!) for about three months now and the valve is still perfect.

  5. Amy, $4? You lucky girl!

    Emi, I think I'm going to have to try out the Lock & Lock - the price point is too good to pass up.

    Kate, so glad to know you love your Camelbak. So far so good at our house too!

  6. I have vowed to do better with the children's lunches this year. My goal is to make them greener, healthier and a little bit fun!

    I'm using the and am loving them! I also got some kid sized cloth napkins so we don't have to throw away napkins. They are cute too!

  7. My fave lunch container is the Klip It Lunch Cube, find it at the container store! See it here:

  8. We use the Goodbyns lunch boxes. We all love them. It is the only lunch box that i have used that is trash free and all of your food fits nicely into it. Also no more searching for small parts and containers in the morning. Dishwasher safe too. The lids can be a little tricky so we had a before school started practice session and have had no problems.

  9. Carla, I can't wait to check out your link - I love the container store!

    Phil and Shanna, thanks for your review on the Goodbyn boxes - I think they would be right up our alley.

  10. I absolutely love this idea, but can these systems hold stuff like yogurt without it spilling into the other compartments? And what if you are sending things that need to be kept cold? My kids hate warm cheese sticks.

  11. hey, steph!
    my boys love the easylunchboxes...
    got them when C started kindergarten and i love not using all the ziplocks!

  12. Those are some wonderful ideas for school lunches. It will definitely make a difference in our household. Thanks again.


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