Originally published Sept 16/15 The Reminder. Flin Flon, Mb. Sponsored by North of 53 Consumers Coop.
The beginning of a new school year often means the return to packing lunches. For others, packing a lunch for work is a year round task.
There is a lot of information about packing a lunch that is healthy for people. How healthy is it for the environment?
How many resources does it use? How much garbage does it create?
The average school child’s lunch produces 30.5 kg or 67 pounds of garbage a year.
Remembering the three R’s of being environmentally friendly makes it easier to think about packing an environmentally healthy lunch.
The three R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle – are listed in order of most important.
The best thing for the environment is to reduce the amount of stuff used. Secondly, reusing goes a long way to reducing the waste created. Recycling is third in order of priority.
The best way to reduce garbage from lunches is to package food in reusable containers.
Use a lunch kit instead of a bag which is thrown away.
Refillable beverage bottles, reusable containers for sandwiches and other foods are available.
It may seem more expensive at first but the cost of purchasing plastic bags and throw away containers adds up over time. Prepackaged lunch items are also more expensive.
Some heavier plastic resealable bags can be washed and reused several times.
Some containers from lunches that are used only once like juice boxes and beverage bottles are recyclable. Prepackaged ‘lunchable’ containers and single serving fruit containers are usually # 7 plastic which can also be recycled.
Remember the order of the three R’s. Recycling is important but it is the last. Reusable containers are better.
Good choices now help future generations.