Snack Options and Brown Bags

Snacks now come in helpfully portion-controlled packages. Many teachers even request that group snacks be provided to the classroom already prepackaged and individually wrapped. Not only do single-portion packages cost a lot, they produce an excessive amount of waste as all of the single wrappers are tossed in the trash. So while grabbing a snack out of the pantry and heading out the door may be convenient, there are more environmentally friendly alternatives.

You can buy snacks in bulk, or at least more than a single-serving container, and pack individual servings in reusable containers yourself. You can also make snacks at home and pack them in lunches or take them to the park. The same goes for drinks. There's no need to buy juice boxes or bottled water. Use washable bottles and fill them with 100 percent juice or tap water to wash down your snacks.

If you're looking for suggestions for packing a healthy lunch for younger kids, check out www.laptoplunches.com. The company Obentec was started by two California moms looking for ways to provide nutritional lunches while reducing waste. They came up with colorful and innovative lunchboxes and containers and offer menu support from their Web site.

Many children take lunches that are completely prepackaged from drink to desert. They produce a hefty amount of trash because nothing is reusable and much of the lunch often goes uneaten. Moreover, these lunches contain very little nutrition and a lot of fat and preservatives. When packing a child's lunch, take advantage of reusable containers and only pack what you think your child will eat. This will set a precedent so that when kids begin packing their own lunches, they'll go for the reusables and portion-control automatically.

Parents can also invest in plastic lunchboxes or reusable bags for their child's lunch. Reusing brown paper bags and recycling them when they get too ratty is another option.

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