The average schoolchild who brings a disposable lunch (packed with juice boxes or other single-serving, convenience foods) generates about 4 to 8 ounces of garbage every day, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. That doesn’t sound like much—until you consider that it adds up to 45 to 90 pounds of garbage per child, per year. Reduce your impact by packing lunch the Japanese way, as boxed meals (obento). They virtually eliminate waste and can inspire healthier eating, too.
> Buy small containers in different sizes to keep juicy foods separate.
> Let your child pick out a fun thermos for water, juice, or milk.
> Make dinner do double duty. For example, carrots cut for dinner tonight can be paired with dip in tomorrow’s lunch. Use leftover chicken breast to create chicken salad.
> Put leftovers into a glass container and pop it into the freezer to make a future microwaveable lunch.
> Keep healthy ready-to-eat foods, such as baby carrots, grape tomatoes, cubed cheese, canned pineapple chunks, and yogurt-covered raisins, on hand for busy days.