Eco-Moms’ Lunch Solutions

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Jill Fales, national traveler, NB Indy columnist and mom, asked me about green lunch solutions.

What to do when you don’t know what to do?  Ask someone who does.  So I split the ask into two parts.  I think we should focus on the kids, recognizing the moms’ influence on the kids.

So first, in give-’em-a-fish thinking, so they eat for today, let’s focus on the lunch itself.  Biggest green wins come from shifting single-use elements in the lunch box to ReUse items.  Water bottles, baggies, utensils and napkins are the first elements that must be changed.  Seek solutions that you can wash and ReUse.

Convenience is a key driver of waste. Jill has four children, so there is a need to buy deep to prevent daily washing and use items that are stackable for efficient storage.  Inviting kids to participate is necessary.

Derek Sabori of Volcom is a recognized thought leader in the choices and actions of himself and his family.  To save you time on Google, Sabori offers the as good places to start a search:

  • Kids lunch box:
  • Dad’s lunch set:
  • For picnics:
  • For drink: or

These are kids we are talking about, eating at school, so there is a compelling necessity to talk about the educational opportunities in a teach-e’m-to-fish way so they can eat green lunch for a lifetime by integrating behaviors and engaging in relevant discussions.

Lisa Manfredi of Davis Magnet School is my go-to eco-mom.  Manfredi is also studying with a California Resource Recovery Association grant to become a Certified Waste Management Professional.  You go, eco-mom.

“It is not that hard”, shares Manfredi.  She and other Eco-moms have the most developed school efforts I know.  “You must want to makes changes.”

Water bottles and baggies were the first to go.  In the conversion from single-use to ReUse items, the biggest complaint she hears from moms is that the kids lose the eco stuff.  Manfredi uses a Sharpie or masking tape to make sure everything has a name.  “With a name label, everything can find its way back to the owner.”

Davis Magnet School has eco-moms that support the green efforts.  Many hands make light work and you will need lots of hands.  School custodians are time starved and task rich.  Lunch ladies will help squirrel away some food scrapes, but best practices indicate you need to make their life easy to do so.

Manfredi talks about the necessity of motivating the kids.  At waste-free Wednesday lunches, all are invited to participate at any level.  At each table, observations are made and discussions occur.  When Manfredi catches kids making good green choices, they get a raffle ticket for a chance to win monthly donated prizes.  There is also a great return on investment by focusing efforts and energies  on the younger grades.  Lunchtime is a great time to engage in a green dialogue.

Many schools, like Mariner’s Elementary, utilize opportunities at Flag Deck to recognize green achievements.  Teachers and classrooms are praised for shutting off lights and computers.  Newport El built compost bins that are then used in the school garden.

Mariners and Newport Heights contacted trash haulers that provide a container.  There is signage creating awareness for curbside drop off of bottles, cans, phone books, paper and e-waste, and Davis Magnet School collects jeans for a Volcom project.  When the container is full, the company picks up the container and drops off a check.  Funds are utilized for PTA or perhaps science projects.

There are many Student Green Teams and third0party funding sources.  Kids have done waste and energy audits with reduction projects.  Field trips, upcycing and ReUse of scrap paper.

There is plenty of prior art to get you started, sounds like you just need to want to do it.

Please share you green school tips at or [email protected]

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