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Back to School: My top 8 Tips for a Plastic Free Lunchbox

Back to School: My top 8 Tips for a Plastic Free Lunchbox

‘It has been estimated that on average a school-age child using a disposable lunch generates three pieces of litter per day, which equates to 30 kg of waste per year.’ (Eeeeek!!) Queensland sustainable schools 

Whenever I wander around my children’s schoolyard, I’m shocked by the plastic waste that's littered - everywhere!

Surely packing a plastic-free lunchboxe is not that hard? Or is it...

Chip packets, muesli wrappers, chocolate wrappers…the list goes on.

And it's not just my children's school that has this problem ‘it has been estimated that on average a school-age child using a disposable lunch generates three pieces of litter per day, which equates to 30 kg of waste per year.’ (Eeeeek!!) Queensland sustainable schools 

This year, I’m making a conscious effort to do better. 

Today I’m sharing (for both your benefit and mine), my top 8 tips to help you get on top of your kid’s lunchbox waste this year.

1. Make a conscious choice. Daily.

Each day you need to decide. Plastic or no plastic. Without making a firm decision you will easily fall back into old habits.

The same thing goes for when you do your weekly shopping. Tell yourself – ‘no plastic wrapped snacks’. You really have to be strict on yourself here.

It's time to create a new habit around choosing snacks without the waste. These snacks need to become the new norm.

plastic free lunchbox snacks for kids

2. Choose an eco-friendly lunch box

Lunchboxes can be a very personal choice. And I’m definitely not recommending throwing out what your child is currently using. We don’t want to generate more waste.

If however, it is time for a new one – consider a stainless steel reusable bento lunch box.

We have a few designs to choose from, and the great thing about these is not only are they plastic-free, they will last you for years to come.

If a bento box isn’t for you, select a reusable lunchbox that can be recycled.

Ever eco reusable bento lunch box

3. Opt for reusable food wraps 

You’re not still using cling wrap, are you?

If you are guilty of this – it's not too late to make the switch. Once you finish the roll you’re using, make a firm decision that you'll never buy cling wrap again.

There is really no excuse to still be using plastic cling wrap.

I don't mean to be blunt, but there's an abundance of reusable food wraps available.

One of my favourites are the vegan food wraps. With a variety of sizes and designs to choose from, these are perfect for wrapping your children’s school snacks.

Reusable plastic-free food wrap for kid's lunchbox

4. Avoid individually plastic-wrapped snacks

This statement, I feel is every parent's worst nightmare. 

Ok, maybe not every parent. But when it’s 8am in the morning, the kids aren’t even dressed for school and you’ve only just finished your coffee - sometimes you've got barely a second left to quickly pack the lunches before you're out the door.

It can be oh-so-easy to grab that handy packet of biscuits/chips/crackers and be done with it. 

Here, the problem lies within your shopping habits. You have to make a conscious decision every week over and over again to stop buying individually wrapped snacks.

Then there's no option to grab that handy plastic-packaged snack. You're forced to opt for a better choice.

If that sounds like an impossible task, at least opt for bigger packets of snacks (i.e a bigger packet of popcorn/crackers/chips that you can then fill into reusable snack bags).

Honestly, by saying no to these snacks – you’re not only doing our Planet a favour, you’re child's health will also massively benefit.

Instead, opt for fresh fruit & veg, bulk foods that can be packed in reusable bags, baked treats, dried fruit, or any other snacks that come without the waste.

Plastic free lunch box ideas for kids lunchboxes - blog

5. Try reusable food bags/food pockets

Quit zip-lock bags. Totally unnecessary. Same as the cling wrap. 

Instead, try our reusable cotton food pockets/food bags . These are truly the best zip lock bag alternatives.

Perfect for fruit and veggie sticks, popcorn, muffins, crackers, sultanas, rice cakes…and more. These have a plant-based lining which helps keep the snacks fresh for longer.

Plus unlike ziplock bags – you can was these ones over and over again. Eventually, when their lifespan is up, they'll break down in your home compost.

Resuable and home compostable food pocket for kid's lunchbox. Blue with white leaves.

6. Choose a reusable lunch/sandwich wrap

Ok so you’ve decided enough is enough with the cling wrap.

These reusable lunch wraps are the perfect swap. Designed with your kid’s lunches in mind, they perfectly fit sandwiches, rolls and wraps.

These food wraps are made from recycled plastic bottles and can be recycled at the end of their life.

Onya purple reusable sandwich wrap

7. Selecting an eco-friendly drink bottle

There’s an abundance of reusable drink bottles on the market. Find one that works for your child (that they like!) and make sure you keep it clean and labelled.

Opt for BPA food-grade stainless steel and choose one with replaceable ‘parts’ so that you don't have to replace the whole drink bottle every couple of years.

Pair your drink bottle with a sustainable cleaning brush.

8. Should you use biodegradable cling wrap?

If you do go down this path – please make sure you know what you’re buying. 

There is a fair amount of greenwashing going on here (i.e. products that say ‘eco-friendly’ but that in fact aren’t). 

Watch out for ‘biodegradable in landfill’ – which is not what you want. This basically means it will break down into microplastics. 

Look for a cling wrap that is home-compostable or certified-compostable. If it mentions landfill at all then steer clear.

Make 2023 the year you commit to a waste-free lunch box!

You've no doubt heard that REDcycle have paused their soft-plastic's recycling. 

Whilst this news is devastating, it now calls on us as individuals to take a stand against plastics.

By saying 'no' to plastics, it calls for greater action to be taken by the manufacturers. Manufacturers and stakeholders need to consider more sustainable packaging options. This is the way of our future and the only way to better protect our beautiful Planet.


For more sustainable living tips check out our FREE zero-waste resources.

If you're ready to take it one step further, join us in the Diminish your Waste Membership for ongoing support along your zero-waste journey.