Monday was the first day of school. Yes, school starts in August in our district, which always seems crazy to me as I used to start school after Labor Day when I was a kid. This means that instead of determining what my kids will eat for lunch at around noon, I am now frantically making lunches at 7:30 in the morning.
Although making a school lunch may seem like a no brainer (PB&J with a banana, anyone?), a lot has changed since my mom threw cellophane-wrapped sandwiches into my childhood Scooby Doo lunch box. For one thing, most lunch boxes are no longer made of tin, but polyester and nylon. For another, people are now starting to take note of how much trash is created during the school lunch hour.
Did you know that a typical American school kid’s lunch generates 67 pounds of trash a year? When I first heard about this statistic, I was amazed. I then did a little math and realized that a class of 20 kids produces 1,340 pounds of trash in the school year, and was horrified when I further calculated that a school with 200 kids (which is a small school), creates 133,400 pounds of school lunch trash a year!
The day-to-day issues of dealing with all this trash, combined with a desire to help students become more environmentally aware, led the administrators and parents club at my children’s school to initiate a No Trash Lunch program. What, you may ask, is a no trash lunch? Well, it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a lunch that doesn’t use anything you would throw away -- no baggies, plastic sporks, juice boxes, or paper napkins. I started making no trash lunches two years ago, and although I sometimes slip and use a baggy in moments of desperation -- usually when the containers aren’t clean -- I’ve found that packing a no trash lunch can be just as convenient as making one that generates piles of trash.