By now you've probably heard the statistics — according to, each school-age child who packs a disposable lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year. That works out to 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for just one average-size elementary school. So if you're not already doing it, make this the year you go waste-free.  

Instead of wrapping sandwiches in aluminum foil or plastic bags, use a reusable container that can hold the sandwich as well as fresh veggies and other treats. Substitute cloth napkins and reusable silverware for disposables. Replace juice boxes and water bottles with reusable drink containers. And use a lunchbox or cooler instead of paper lunch bags.  

But don't stop there.  Make sure your child's lunch is all-the-way green with these easy tips:
  • Add water: Stop buying juice boxes and single-use plastic water bottles and invest in a few reusable water bottles for your kids’ lunch.
  • Buy in bulk: Save cash and packaging by avoiding single-serving items like boxed raisins, cheese sticks and apple sauce cups, Instead, buy the same items in large containers and portion out the items according to what your child will actually eat each day. 
  • Keep it whole: Pack whole fruits and veggies for your kids as often as possible. Apples, bananas, carrots and oranges make great snacks (without packaging) that your kids can eat. 
  • Pass the beef: It takes an enormous amount of energy, water, chemicals and grain to make a burger.  You don't have to make it completely vegetarian, but with options like veggie subs, mac and cheese, and cheese pizza, why not make a rule that lunch will be your family's “veggie” meal of the day?

Also on MNN: More green school prep suggestions from Vanessa, MNN's answer guru.

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