Healthy Lunches Without Waste or BPA


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ecolunchbox-spread
 
Guest blog by Sandra Ann Harris, EcoLunchBoxes

What’s for lunch? Let’s hope it is not plastic, lead, vinyl, or anything else that is leaching toxins into the environment. As for the delicious, nutritious lunches you pack, they should fill up your tummy – not the garbage can.

Every day a mountain of trash is thrown away at lunchtime, creating environmental problems and health hazards and wasting hundreds of dollars for every family packing a lunch.

School trash cans nationwide are overflowing with plastic water bottles, granola bar wrappers, plastic chip baggies, juice boxes, cheesestick wrappers, plastic utensils, plastic yogurt cups, plastic ziplock baggies.

The results of a waste-free lunch study by ECOlunchbox show that an average family using throw-aways and pre-packaged foods for lunch spend much more each year than a family that buys food in bulk and packs lunches in reusable lunchware. Yet so often these days we can’t be sure our lunchboxes are nontoxic and waste-free.

How to pack waste-free lunches:

Common Mistakes

  • Reusing throwaways like single-use plastic baggies. Baggies are hard to clean and thoroughly dry, so bacteria can proliferate;
  • Relying on plastic packaging and containers; and
  • Choosing lunchware that’s not dishwasher safe and machine washable. It must be easy to keep your lunchware clean so you can keep using it safely for a long time.

Benefits…

…to your health

Scientific studies show a link between toxins found in plastic containers and packaging and numerous negative health consequences including breast and prostate cancer, infertility, early puberty in girls, type-2 diabetes, obesity, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

A study published in the July 2011 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives found that hundreds of types of plastics leach hormone-disrupting toxins such as BPA (bisphenol-A) and phthalates.

“Our kids are exposed to this chemical in canned goods served at school lunches and at home, in water bottles, in lunch containers and leftover food containers at home,” writes Katy Farber, founder of Non-Toxic Kids. “Parents can limit their children’s exposure to this chemical, and it’s potentially worrisome replacements in plastic, by using stainless steel, cloth, and glass containers for school lunches and in the home.”

…to your wallet

Not only is making the switch to reusable lunchware a healthy choice for people and the planet, it is also an easy way for families to save money.

Americans waste a lot of money buying throw-aways. Parents of school-age students typically spend about $183 each year on throw-away packaging such as plastic baggies, yogurt cups, juice boxes, paper napkins, water bottles, plastic utensils, and chip bags, according to a study by ECOlunchbox. Switching to reusable lunchware can save about $130 per person per year!

…to the Earth

An estimated 38 percent of students in the United States pack a lunch each day, according to data from the U.S. Census. That’s 19.1 million students packing a lunch 180 school days each year, resulting in 18 billion pieces of trash discarded nationwide each year!

“There are many safer options on the market and these items are affordable, reusable and better for the environment too,” writes Sommer Poquette, blog author of Green and Clean Mom. “It’s important to be educated and make wiser choices once the red flag has been raised!”

When you look at the financial and environmental costs, it becomes obvious that switching to a litterless lunch makes a lot of sense.

Learn More

Ecolunchboxes.com – learn more about plastics safety at lunchtime and other waste-free lunch facts

Non Toxic Kids – for this most recent article about the FDA’s upcoming decision about banning BPA in food packaging (from the Breast Cancer Fund):

Waste Busters Program – tips, resources and downloads are available through this program by the Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority that promotes waste reduction in schools.

Eco LunchBox Quiz – to learn more about how eco your lunchbox is.

Wastefreelunches.org – learn more about waste-free lunches and how to start a program at your school.

How-to Videos – that show how to make a reusable snack sack and a reusable sandwich wrap.  These activities make great school or scouting projects and provide a fun way to teach about no-waste lunches.

For related articles, see:
The “Rubber Ducky” Chemical: Phthalates
Bottles and Sippy Cups
Raising Healthy Children

Sandra Ann Harris lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two school-age children, four chickens, and Hobow, her terrier puppy. She is the founder and president of ECOlunchbox.

© 2012 SCGH, LLC.


One Response

  1. Goold July 15, 2012

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