Ideas to help you pack a lunch box with minimal waste

By Clova Mabin, 7th June 2019

A typical school group visit to the Shark Education Centre generates a considerable amount of plastic waste during snack break time. We are encouraging all school groups (and therefore all parents whose children visit our centre) to cut down on the packaging used in packed lunches. There are three very good reasons for doing this:

1) Homemade lunches are healthier;
2) By limiting packaging, we can reduce the demand for single-use plastics and therefore our impact on the environment;
3) By making smart choices, you can reduce the financial cost of packed lunches

Photo © Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Education Centre

As a working parent myself, I understand the convenience of buying small packets of food which stay fresh and contain an appropriate portion size for your child to snack on. These are some of the ways that I have found which can help us to tackle the problem:

  • Buy items in bulk, preferably from places which sell in paper or certified biodegradable bags or you can fill your own containers/mesh bags, for example from Fresh Produce Bags or Single-Use Plastic Alternatives;
  • Make homemade food when possible
  • Invest in a non-toxic, i.e. Bisphenol-A (BPA) free and durable lunch box, possibly one with compartments to minimise the need for multiple boxes, for example
  • Compartmentalised BPA-free lunch box. Photo © MyCrunchbox

  • Swap single-use sandwich bags or clingwrap for reusable sandwich bags, for example, Silicone sealer bags or try beeswax wraps such as these

    Reusable silicone sandwich bag. Photo © Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Education Centre

  • Instead of disposable water bottles or pre-packaged fruit juice containers, refill a reusable stainless steel or BPA free plastic water bottles. Most supermarkets sell steel or BPA-free water bottles now;
  • Steel water bottles. Photo © Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Education Centre

  • Swap plastic utensils for stainless steel (from your kitchen drawer), BPA free plastic or bamboo cutlery;
  • Include a cloth napkin to wipe sticky fingers and faces;

Encourage the kids to help with choosing and packing lunch items. This will reduce the amount of food wastage and in theory save you time (although not always in practice!).