Last week I mentioned that Grant and I visited the Glenbrook Zero Waste group in New Westminster. What I didn’t mention was that it wasn’t all easy-peasy. They actually had a few hard questions for us.
And one of those questions was about kids. The Glenbrook project has 14 participating families and about 50 participating people, so you do the math. There are lots of kids.
People often infer that Grant and I wouldn’t be able to live anywhere close to zero waste if we had children. I’ll admit, it’s one thing to live zero waste as an independent adult, and it’s quite another to try to do it with a house full of kids.
Those Glenbrook folks are slowly proving that it can be done with a family, but they were hitting some hurdles. Like lunches. One mom asked us what to feed her kids at lunch.
Up until then, I had always assumed that the reason kids’ lunches were crammed with pre-packaged food was that the parents were too busy to make stuff from scratch. But apparently, that’s not the case.
This mom told us that when she sends tupperware containers to school with her children, it’s like they enter a black hole, never to return. She said she can’t afford to keep buying supposedly reusable containers that disappear into the depths of the school cloakroom. The example she used was yogurt. She tried it in a reusable container, but her son wouldn’t eat it. He was in such a rush to get to the playground, that he couldn’t be bothered to sit down with a spoon and open the container. What happened when she send yogurt this way was that he’d skip it altogether and then come home starving because he spent his lunch hour playing instead of eating. She compromised by sending one of those soft plastic yogurt tubes. It had packaging, but at least he ate it (sound familiar moms?)
Quite frankly, we were speechless. We suggested wrapping homemade granola bars in parchment paper to avoid the plastic, but were stuck on the disappearing containers.
Now that I’ve had some time to mull it over, I wish I had mentioned having a bento box. These “all in one” lunch boxes keep the entire lunch in one large container, so presumably it’d have less chance of getting forgotten. They can be filled with unpackaged finger foods which are fun and quick to grab and eat on the go (obviously this doesn’t work for yogurt).
- LapTop Lunches makes a popular version. They even have a sweet menu library with lunch ideas, or you can check out the thousands of lunches on the LapTop Lunches flickr page.
- If you want to avoid plastic food containers, PlanetBox makes a stainless steel version that comes with fun magnets.
- Of course, you could always make your own by taking a big container and nesting some smaller containers inside.
So Mom’s, Dad’s, nannies, and other kid-friendly folks? How do you pack a waste-free lunch that will actually get eaten in a container that will actually be brought home?