Earth-conscious + health-conscious lunch ideas

Guest post by Jessica Kukac, Environmental Systems Coordinator. For more information, contact Jessica at 705-734-6363 ext. 11338 or

lunchDid you know that elementary schools can produce 20 to 40 kg of waste in a single day, and more than double that in a secondary school? It might not seem like a lot, but there are over 180 days in a school year and over 100 schools in the Simcoe County District School Board.

The SCDSB is committed to environmental awareness and practice in all aspects of education, including formal curriculum, daily operations and even the way we build our schools. In adhering to the SCDSB’s Environmental Policy, we promote environmental consciousness in all aspects of school culture.

Lunches are a great way to turn environmental curriculum into action, while making healthy food choices and saving money. A lunch packed with reusable items is 45% less expensive and contains 89% less waste than a lunch packed with single use items. The average family spends about $100 per year per child on single-use packaging materials such as plastic wrap, baggies, foil and wax paper.

How much will your child eat?

If you’re packing a lunch for your child for the first time, you might not be sure what to pack or how much to pack. A “boomerang” lunch, where uneaten food or waste material is returned home, is a great way to determine how much your child can eat, what they like or don’t like, and how much garbage that lunch produces.

Involve your kids

Tired of doing it yourself? Get your kids to help! This is a great way to spend time with your kids and get them thinking about healthy, earth-friendly lunches. Here are some waste-free lunch tips:

Choose the right containers – If you are using plastic containers, be sure it is BPA-free. BPA, or Bisphenol A, is an industrial chemical used in making plastic that could potentially seep into food. Stainless steel (food grade) is also a good option. Avoid glass; although it’s a great option, it’s breakable.

  • Make sure the lids are leak proof
  • Use a lunch bag that can be wiped out or even put in the dishwasher

Choose healthy foods – it can be a long day at school so make sure your child has the brain power to make it through the day.

  • Whole grains, blueberries, tomatoes, broccoli, avocado, carrots and spinach are excellent sources of brain fuel.
  • Make your own muffins, granola bars, cookies, puddings and apple sauce. Freeze large batches to make it more convenient for packing lunches.

Remember that some things might be more difficult for your child to eat when you are not around to help.

  • Cut a small slit into bananas or oranges to make peeling easier.
  • Pack pre-cut fruit and vegetables for easy eating and less waste.

If your school doesn’t have a green bin, ask your child to bring home organic waste. Did you know it can take up to two years for an apple core to break down in a landfill? It only takes 9-13 weeks in a municipal composting system.

Stay tuned for more information about these upcoming events:

Ontario EcoSchools

Wasteless Lunch Challenge

Waste Reduction Week

Green Bins in Orillia

Green Bins in Simcoe County Secondary Schools

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