Plastic waste has risen up the agenda over recent years, with more of us doing our bit to try and curb the tonnes that’s binned in annually.
But even if you’ve become a green god or goddess that regularly separates your tin cans and milk cartons from your rubbish, there could still be one area of your life that you’ve drastically overlooked – your children’s lunch boxes.
Take cling film for example. It’s one of the most common single-use plastics and can take up to 1,000 years to degrade, but many of us think nothing of wrapping our sandwiches in the stretchy stuff on a daily basis.
Keen to make a difference on a micro-level? Here are a few extra ways you can make your lunch box game better for the environment…
1. Switch to a portioned lunch box
One of the main uses for single-use cling films and foils is to separate foods so they don’t get mixed up or fall apart in your child’s bag.
A greener way to deal with this conundrum is to invest in a reusable Japanese Bentgo box, which has different compartments to keep sandwiches apart from snacks and desserts.
As they’re sturdier than single-use plastics, boxes like this can hold mushier foods like hummus and dips, meaning you can make lunches more varied and exciting than just plain old ham and cheese sandwich.
2. Invest in a reusable straw
Many popular children’s grab-and-go drink options are packaged in cartons and come with throwaway straws that end up in the bin and ultimately, sitting in landfill for decades.
Instead of bulk buying pre-made drinks that are laden in sugar, invest in a reusable bottle with a metal straw instead. This way, you can cut down on your plastic waste and fill them healthier options like fruit-infused water or fortified soy milks.
3. Change your cutlery habits
In 2016, France became the first country to outlaw plastic cutlery And while you can still buy plastic knives, forks and spoons in Ireland, there’s no reason why you can’t green up your act on your own terms. Next time you’ve packed up pasta or a yogurt, send your little ones off to school with a compact cutlery set like this one by Joseph Joseph.
Each utensil stays neatly bound together thanks to its magnetic design, and there’s a silicone storage case so they can keep dirty knives and forks separate in their bag and ready to throw into the wash at the end of the day.
4. Try silicone bags
Instead of using and throwing away hundreds of zip-lock sandwich bags every year, why not upgrade to a silicone set?
They’re less likely to tear in your bag and can be easily washed in the sink or thrown into the dishwasher and used over and over again, so as well as being better for the planet, they’ll save heaps of money in the long run.
5. Find a new way to wrap
Still want to just put their ham sambo in their bag? Then you need to get on the re-useable wrap bandwagon. Beeswraps can be used over and over again for up to a year, and then thrown on the compost.
They’re made from beeswax, along with jojoba oil, tree resin and cotton. The best bit? They come in some really cute designs that put clear, boring old cling film out in the cold.