As an elementary teacher, I’ve spent years cringing at the contents of school waste bins. After lunch, they are stuffed with of barely touched yogurt, bite-marked bagels, and full baggies of carrot sticks. In the primary grades, the juice boxes threaten to spill onto the classroom floor after an indoor recess.
Waste-free, boomerang lunch programs are an environmental initiative you want to help your school get behind.
Waste-free lunch vs. boomerang lunch programs
A waste-free lunch, or a litterless lunch, is one where all the lunch gear is reusable from the washable cloth napkins to the refillable juice box container. It is a planet friendly way to pack your child’s lunch as it doesn’t produce the daily trash of single-use items.
A boomerang lunch is a program where students are asked to bring all the garbage home from their lunches. This includes all packaging and food waste. Since many schools aren’t set up to sort organic matter or even recycle as fully as we can at home, the garbage can be disposed of in a more environmentally friendly manner.
By initiating a waste-free, boomerang lunch program, schools can work with families to support the environment. It significantly reduces food and packaging waste.
How do boomerang lunch programs help families?
Perhaps your child never eats the grapes you send and always has half a sandwich left?
Boomerang lunch programs help families save money by seeing which of the food being sent each day is actually been eaten.
You’ll also be able to cut down on your family’s avoidable food waste. Food that is edible but is being thrown out. What a waste of our dollars and the resources that went into producing and transporting that food to you!
Most lunch trash comes from disposable packaging, a waste-free, boomerang program helps families reconsider the way they purchases, prepare, and pack food for school.
Shifting to a waste-free lunch means that grocery shopping becomes about buying in bulk or making food at home so that school meals can be packed into reusable containers.
Start packing better school lunches
Drinks can be packed in resealable containers. Many students take sips and then don’t want anymore since they cannot place it back in their lunch bag they throw away a hardly used juice box.
Cut sandwiches and fruits and veggies into snack sized servings. This way if a child doesn’t eat it all during lunch they can have some easily available for afternoon recess/snack time.
Involve your child in packing their lunch. It’s another way to grow their food literacy!
Visit the Waste-Free Lunch challenge to print out this helpful waste-free lunch reminder for your fridge!