10 Tips for ''Green'' School Lunchesby Erin Dower
An average-size middle school generates more than 20 tons of waste a year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That's a lot of trash — and greenhouse gases. Learn some easy, eco-friendly tips for packing waste-free or "greener" bag lunches for kids (psst — you'll actually be saving money, too!).
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Reuse Sandwich Bags
The Natural Resources Defense Council says it is safe to reuse plastic food-storage bags until they start to look "cloudy." They recommend wiping the inside of the bags clean before reuse. In my household, we try to reuse our plastic storage bags (or aluminum foil) at least once, unless they contained deli meat, mayonnaise, or things that easily spoil. Bags that contained almost anything else — from peanut butter sandwiches to blueberries to crackers or cookies — have proven safe to reuse another day (and we don't even bother wiping them clean — who has time for that?!). To help younger kids with this habit, write "save" or draw a star on the bags they can bring home for reuse. Think of how much waste you'll prevent even by reusing plastic bags just one time! Alternatives to plastic sandwich bags include reusable/washable fabric sandwich bags (such as LunchSkins) or disposable unbleached-paper bags. Check your local natural food store or grocery aisle.
Next: Ditch the Brown Bag