Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Steps Toward Packing an Entirely Reusable Lunch to Help You Save Money, Your Health, and the Environment

Welcome to Take It Tuesday! Today we have a guest post from Hannah from the Wild Mint  if you've never shopped there, take a peek at all the wonderful items they have in stock. Today Hannah is talking to us about lunch gear! That's right up my alley, so enjoy! Thanks Hannah!

Steps Toward Packing an Entirely Reusable Lunch to Help You Save Money, Your Health, and the Environment

The end of the year can be such as busy time, especially for parents! Family gatherings, entertaining, and gift giving are joyous events but time-consuming nonetheless. Amidst all of this, the ho-hum lunch packing routine for your kids tends to get put on the back burner, so we are here to give you some new, fresh ideas and bring back a healthy, eco-friendly lunch for your kids!

Whether it’s incorporating cute and colorful reusable lunch gear into a holiday gift idea or setting New Year’s resolutions to work towards packing healthier lunches, there’s never a wrong time to steer your focus back on healthy, reusable lunches. And when you consider all the potential monetary, health and environmental savings you and your family can benefit from, I think you’ll agree!

The typical disposable lunch consists of a brown or plastic bag, disposable drink, plastic baggies, prepackaged food, utensils and straws. So the switch to a reusable lunch means that everything in it can be eaten, reused, recycled, or composted.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started: 
* Instead of using plastic baggies, place your child’s favorite snack in reusable sandwich bags 
* Ditch the drink cartons and opt for a reusable alternative like a Lifefactory water bottle. Their 9oz bottle is perfect for kid’s lunches and super lightweight for mom to fit in her purse as well! 
* Keep warm food tasty in insulated food containers
I’ve run the numbers in a “Lunch Savers” analysis and the cost savings of packing a reusable lunch versus a lunch made up of disposable items is definitely nothing to scoff at. This is the time of year pinching a few more pennies here and there definitely won’t hurt! So, after evaluating a typical child’s lunch, my team and I at Wild Mint determined that packing a reusable lunch can save $2.32 per day. That’s over $400 per child per school year!

The health benefits are also a huge part of making lunches reusable. Waste-free alternatives such as the examples above help avoid exposure to BPA, phthalates, PVCs, lead, and other heavy metals and toxic chemicals. Many disposable and prepackaged lunch materials, like plastic, contain harmful chemicals that can leach into the food and drink they come in contact with.

Prepackaged foods are also often high in fat, sugar, sodium, and preservatives and made with artificial colorings, artificial flavorings, and many unpronounceable ingredients. Prepping your own foods will decrease junk food pitfalls and nourish your child with fresher ingredients.

Last but certainly not least is the eco-impact of disposable vs. reusable lunches. We are creating a huge amount of waste every year with the paper, plastic, Styrofoam and other materials used
in school lunches (18,000 pounds of waste for an average elementary school, WasteFreeLunches.org). But you can make a big difference by making some little changes.
* Cut up fruits and veggies. Kids will often only take a few bites out of an uncut apple or whole banana. With nowhere to put the leftover fruit without making a mess, it often gets thrown away.
* Pack delicious lunches your kids will love and keep them guessing with great lunch inspiration and recipes, like the ones here on Give Peas a Chance!
* Pack together. Kids are more likely to eat a meal they’ve helped plan and prepare! (WasteFreeLunches.org)
* Food scraps. Have your kids save their food scraps for composting or even taking to a nearby farmer or zoo where they can use the food scraps to feed animals.

I hope I’ve helped you feel confident in how to pack a completely reusable lunch for your little ones. You can read even more details on cost savings data and reusable ideas here, and if you ever have any questions or ideas, please email me (Hannah) at hello@wildmintshop.com!

~ Hannah

A little more about Hannah, our guest poster! 

Hannah Helsabeck
President, Wild Mint Shop Hannah Helsabeck is President and Co-Founder of Wild Mint, an online shop dedicated to helping families find toxin-free and eco-friendly products for healthier lifestyles. She is passionate about educating others on the benefits of healthy living and the importance of taking small steps towards eliminating exposure to toxins in people’s daily lives. She also enjoys finding new ways to be eco-conscious and is often found in the kitchen cooking up simple meals with real, whole foods. Hannah is the oldest of six kids, has amazing parents as role models in business as well as life, and currently lives in South Florida with her incredibly supportive husband. To learn more about living a more toxin-free lifestyle and find healthy recipes, visit the LEARN section of her website.
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