Environmentally Responsible Lunch Plans Grow in Schools

school_lunch_wasteInitiatives to make schools more environmentally responsible are now making their way from the classrooms to the lunchrooms and even to the kitchens at home, the New York Times reports. Schools now want their students to use lunch reusable lunch containers such as Tupperware instead of the ubiquitous Ziploc bags, and the retailers, like the Container Store, have been noticing and benefiting. Emily Hyde, assistant headmaster of Archway Classical Academy at Veritas, a charter school in Phoenix, says that the policy requiring waste-free lunches not only makes a positive environmental impact, it also saves money for both parents and the school. Hyde calls the requirement for a reusable water bottle and a lunch box “the economical choice.”

The parents, however, aren’t universally convinced. Julie Corbett, from Oakland, California, says that her daughters’ school’s eco-friendly policy causes huge problems in the mornings at her house. She says that her daughters feel embarrassed when she has to send their lunches in plastic bags. Judith Wagner of Whittier College, says that convincing the parents is often the most difficult part:

“Parents will say things like, ‘Well, I want her to have a choice, and if I put in a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich and a ham sandwich, she has a choice,’ ” Professor Wagner said. “And each one comes in its own separate plastic bag.”

Based on the information provided by retailers like the Container Store, parents are making adjustments, slowly but surely. The sales of paper bags and sandwich bags are falling this year, while reusable lunch containers and bento-boxes are becoming more poplar.

Across the Internet, websites like babble.com offer tips and suggestions to parents who are struggling to reduce the waste from their kids’ school lunches. Amy Windsor, who writes for babble, reassures parents who are reluctant about the upfront costs of reusable lunch gear, that the expenses even out over the course of the year. In the end, reusables might even prove a better value over plastic and paper bags. Windsor recommends products like reusable spoons and insulated lunch bags to eliminate some of the 67 pounds of lunch-time waste generated by an average student per year.

Matthew Tabor

Matthew Tabor

Matthew is a prolific, independent voice in the national education debate. He is a tireless advocate for high academic standards from pre-K through graduate school, fiscal sense and personal responsibility. He values parents’ and families’ rights and believes in accountability for teachers, administrators, politicians and all taxpayer-funded education entities. With a unique background that includes work in higher education, executive recruiting, professional sport and government, Matthew has consulted on new media and communication strategies for a broad range of clients. He writes the blog “Education for the Aughts” at www.matthewktabor.com , has contributed to National Journal’s ‘Expert’ blog for Education , and interacts with the education community on Twitter and Google+.