It goes without saying that I'm a big fan of waste-free lunches. I've written about that issue dozens of times, expounding on the benefits, how to pack waste-free lunches and the best gear for putting them together. I pack no-waste lunches for my kids almost every day (except for cheese pizza day), and my husband carts his lunch back and forth in a cooler stocked with reusable containers of leftovers.

Despite being a big proponent, I can't think of good reason to punish kids who don't bring a waste-free lunch to school, and that's exactly what happened recently to a 6-year-old boy in Quebec, Canada.  

Marc-Andre Lanciault wrote about the incident on his French-language blog, "Notre Vie" [Our Life]. As he tells the story, Lanciault's wife, Isabel Theoret, was preparing lunch for the couple's young son, Felix. Suddenly, Felix cried out,  "No Mommy! Not a Ziploc!"  

The kindergartner explained to his parents that his teacher had excluded him from a contest to win a stuffed teddy bear because he had brought an environmentally unfriendly plastic baggie to school.

According to a report in Canada's National Post, when Lanciault questioned Felix's teacher, she responded, "You know, Mr. Lanciault, it's not very good for the environment. We have to take care of our planet and the bags do not decompose well."

But what lesson does this teach a 6-year-old child? That plastic baggies are evil, but stuffed teddy bears (which are sure to hit the garbage just as quickly) are good?  

As I said, I'm all for the waste-free lunch and for educating kids about the benefits, but what good does it do to punish a kid for something he has no control over? Sure, it's easy enough to use reusable containers instead of baggies, but a 6-year-old has little say over what goes into his lunch box. And who's to say that those parents on that particular day weren't swamped with other worries and concerns that trumped whether or not their son's lunch box was "waste-free?" Who am I to judge? Why should their son be punished?

What do you think? Did this teacher go too far or not far enough?

MNN homepage photo: Joe_Potato/iStockphoto

Should a kid be punished for bringing an eco-unfriendly lunch?
Quebec kindergartner excluded from contest for bringing lunch packed in plastic baggies.