Lessons on Litter-free Lunches

      9 Comments on Lessons on Litter-free Lunches

A note from Maman on the Trail:

Back in July, I wrote a guest post for Rochelle during the Love Your Lake campaign. Now she’s returning the favour and shedding some light on litter along with some tips for packing litter-free lunches. 

lessons-on-litter-free-lunches - mamanonthetrail.com

*This post contains affiliate links.

Written By: Rochelle Archibald, A Greener Future

For two years, A Greener Future, the non-profit that I work for, has been picking up litter. Each piece is meticulously documented to paint a clear picture of what the “problem” items are. It isn’t hard to guess what we’re finding, a quick glance around and you’ll see the common culprits. But now there is some solid spreadsheet proof from these documentation efforts. The main artifacts that we’re collecting are food and beverage packaging. They’re everywhere: at parks, on beaches, in school yards and parking lots. At every single litter cleanup we do, we find the remnants of someone’s edibles. Here is a bit of a breakdown of some of the items we’ve found over the past two years:

lessons-on-litter-free-lunches - mamanonthetrail.com

This type of litter is not going anywhere unless we tackle the problem at its source. Even if all of these wrappers and bottles are properly disposed of into the garbage and recycling bins it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to stay there. Sometimes the wind or wildlife move litter around, and sometimes garbage purposely gets dumped in spots it shouldn’t be. But there is a solution….

School is back on, which also means it’s lunch-packing season, and a great opportunity to eliminate some unnecessary packaging. Making lunches is a chore that many parents don’t particularly like and opt for the the quickest and easiest choices to get the job done. Quick and easy sounds great and it doesn’t have to mean buying a bunch of pre-made packaged options like granola bars, yogurt tubes, cheese strings, and Dunkaroos. You can easily make a fun and healthy lunch without all of the extra packaging.

Currently, my son is too young to go to school so I tested out a round of litter-free lunches on his father. This dad was very happy that he didn’t have to make his own lunches for the week. Below are the five lunches that I came up with, but really there are thousands of options that you could mix and match to make lunches that suit your family. For these lunches, we chose to use reusable glass containers, however, we also often use *Colibri reusable snack bags (which may be more appropriate for children’s lunches).

lessons-on-litter-free-lunches - mamanonthetrail.com

But what about a drink? Our stainless steel *S’well water bottles work perfectly for hot or cold beverages. They can easily be refilled anytime throughout the day, and they close up tight so there is no leaky mess.

You can make a huge impact simply by making litter-free lunches. Just imagine eliminating 190 juice boxes over the year; that would make a pretty big pile. Add in 190 sandwich bags, 190 granola bar wrappers, and 190 yogurt cups and you have a small mountain. Making the switch to litter-free lunches also has some financial benefits, not only will you save on the ziplock bags you won’t have to buy, but often package-free foods are cheaper. For example, 190 servings of single-serve apple sauce would cost around $93.10 for the school year while an apple a day would cost around $72.20: a difference of $20.90. It might not sound like a lot but that’s only one item in one lunch box. Making a few small switches to litter-free options could save you thousands of dollars over the course of your child’s education (or your partner’s employment!). Save some money, save some packaging, and save the planet!

What’s in your litter-free lunch? Tell us in the comment section below!


1 apple = $0.38 (as per my last receipt)
1 single-serve container of apple sauce = $0.49 (as per shelf price at grocery store)
# School days = 190, (as per the Ontario standard)

9 thoughts on “Lessons on Litter-free Lunches

  1. Leigh Kitchens

    I just received my Planet Wise sandwich wrap & snack pack yesterday that I ordered on Earth Day! About to make a whole wheat peanut butter & honey sandwich & cherry tomatoes & carrots with hummus for my lunch today! Drink is black tea with 100% juice for flavor in a glass reusable bottle.
    I really like your lunch options too!

  2. Amber Ludwig

    Oooh I also love the idea of a litter free lunch because I will find us eating more whole foods!! Our would have bananas and apples, pistachios, lettuce wraps and water!! We love bento boxes for reducing litter too!!

  3. Molly

    These are good ideas. It’s so important to reduce packaging, but many times we don’t pay attention. It’s good to spread awareness. For work, I usually bring plain yogurt in a glass jar with fruit and cinnamon on top, and apple, leftovers from dinner in a glass container, and any snacks in reusable baggies. Where I struggle are snacks that I keep at my desk long term. Those are usually smack bars and packets of oatmeal for when I’m not prepared. I need to come up with better solutions there.

  4. Laurie P

    We just bought my kiddo some new lunch gear (already this early in the school year) with various size containers that fit into one. I noticed over the last couple weeks, that we just were not doing enough to avoid excess packaging. Thing are changing over here 🙂

  5. Laura

    What a great idea! People don’t really think about where all that packaging goes. This is a great way to reduce the effect you have on the environment. Those lunches look tasty too!


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