5 Ways to Pack a 'Green' School Lunch

Many parents of school-aged children are interested in packing a healthy and environmentally friendly lunch for their children each day. However, they may have questions regarding how to do just that.

This is the season for school lunches, as thousands of students will be heading back to the classroom ... and lunchroom. For those who will be bringing a lunch from home, there are ways to make it healthy for the body and the planet.

1. Choose foods the child will eat. Nothing is more wasteful than a lunch that ends up in the trash rather than the stomach. Instead of experimenting with foods that one would hope a child will eat, select healthy items that have a past track record for success.

2. Skip the brown bags. Certain children may relish the idea of bringing in a character-themed lunch box. Older children may scoff at the idea. But the fact is that disposable paper lunch bags are wasteful and reusable lunch carriers are much more eco-friendly. Today there are lunch bags that are subdued in color and style and are often insulated to keep food at the right temperature.

3. Select organic foods. Whether the child is bringing in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a pizza on a pita, choose foods that are organically grown or local. Supermarkets now stock the shelves with plenty of organic options that are free from pesticides and harmful growing practices. These foods are healthier and more sustainable.

4. Buy favorite foods in bulk. If the child loves cereal treats or whole-grain granola bars, buy the big box and store it in the pantry. This saves on packaging and extra trips to the store, both of which are wasteful.

5. Use reusable containers. Rather than packing a sandwich in a plastic baggie or a piece of plastic wrap, select a series of sandwich holders, containers and the like that can transport the lunch contents to and from school. Sure they'll have to be washed each night, but children won't be contributing to extra waste.

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