In keeping with its environmental focus, Prairie Crossing Charter School encourages each student to bring a trash free lunch and snack to school. Trash-free lunches help save the environment, and they can save money in the long run! To pack a trash-free lunch, provide:
- A reusable lunch box or bag;
- A cloth napkin;
- A water bottle/reusable drink bottle;
- Reusable silverware, if needed;
- Reusable containers for food storage.
Many excellent products are available both at stores and online. While PCCS does not promote or endorse any specific products, http://www.wastefreelunches.org and http://www.reuseit.org both offer suggestions and ideas for products and strategies that will help families pack trash-free lunches.
In addition to using the items listed above, there are many helpful tips and strategies for packing a trash-free lunch. These include buying in bulk and portioning food into reusable containers, making enough dinner for "left-over" lunches and packing those into re-usable containers (all classrooms have microwaves for lunch heat-ups) and searching out tasty and healthy alternatives to products that only come in single-serving options. For more ideas, see "Let's Do Lunch: Waste-Free Tips and Lunch Ideas," listed below!
If staff notices trash items in lunches, we will send an informational email reminder home that provides suggestions for alternatives. Exceptions may be made for field trips when students will be carrying their lunches around all day; teachers will inform parents in advance on the rare instances when this is the case.
Let’s Do Lunch: Waste-Free Tips and Lunch Ideas
- Buy in bulk and pack individual servings in reusable containers. This not only reduces the amount of trash but is often much more economical too!
- Send cloth napkins instead of disposable napkins or paper towels.
- Fill reusable drink bottles 1/3 full of water or juice. In the morning top off the frozen liquid with more of the same liquid and the beverage will stay cold until lunch time.
- When packing leftovers from dinner, pack some right into the lunch containers for the next day. Or they can be frozen until your child is in the mood for that menu item again in a few weeks.
- Apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon and a little sugar taste great (and the kids won’t notice the browning).
- Make your own pudding cups. Whip-up a batch of pudding, pour and store in serving size containers. This also works with applesauce – make (or buy) a large amount and pack it in reusable containers. Less trash!
- Instead of small containers of yogurt (many of which are not recyclable) buy a larger container of vanilla yogurt and add your own toppings (such as cinnamon, fruit or granola).
- Send in grated cheese in one container and a soft tortilla in another. A quick turn in the microwave makes instant quesadillas. For the more adventurous students send along salsa and some chopped lettuce and tomatoes.
- Why pay for Lunchables when you can pack your own? Buying block cheese and a larger box of multi-grain crackers is MUCH less expensive and greatly reduces the amount of trash.
- For kids who like omelets, make an extra one with their favorite ingredients and pack it up.
- Roll-up your child’s favorite lunch meat and/or cheese with some light cream cheese in a multi-grain tortilla – YUM!
As a general rule of thumb, anything you cook or prepare for your family at home is more nutritious (and creates less trash) than instant, pre-packed, processed foods.