Today’s Lunch Special: a Green and Trash-Free Lunch


by WFAA Project Green

Posted on February 5, 2010 at 12:54 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 5 at 12:57 PM

Laurel Peltier / Earth 911


Looking for ways to become eco-friendly? An easy place to make a difference is with your child’s lunch.

Though juice boxes and individually wrapped ‘grab and go’ foods are convenient, they generate tons of trash. Each year the average child dumps 67 pounds of lunchbox trash costing school districts valuable dollars to collect and dispose of the trash.

Re-thinking how your child’s meal gets packed can reduce trash going to landfills and has some unexpected benefits.

Simple ways to pack a trash-free lunch:

  • Send food in re-usable lunchboxes instead of paper bags (Also, remember if using a soft lunchbox that contains “PVC”, consider testing the bag for lead).
  • Instead of plastic wrap, foil or baggies, pack food in re-usable plastic containers.
  • Consider buying foods in bulk or in larger boxes and packing a portion in re-usable plastic containers.
  • Send drinks in a shatterproof thermos, a re-usable drink container (some are available with ice cores built into the bottle) or send in bottled water and recycle the bottle when it returns home.
  • Try cloth napkins, or re-usable silverware that can be washed at home.

In addition to feeling good about reducing trash, a few added benefits are:

  • Parents save money. Individually wrapped goodies and drinks are premium-priced, often up to 50 percent higher.
  • Parents see leftovers. “Hmm, the healthy sandwich has one bite taken, and every cookie disappeared.” And, many kids snack on leftovers after school.
  • Healthier food choices. Your food and drink options are limitless when you pack in re-usable containers and don’t rely on pre-packaged items, which tend to be processed foods.

To learn more about trash-free lunches for your family, or even your school, visit The EPA also has a page dedicated to this subject at