Katie Tyndale, founder of Let’s Go Plastic Free shares her tips lunchboxes minus the notorious material.
We might plan to make the perfect, plastic-free and healthy lunchbox for our children, but the reality of juggling the demands of home and work means this often doesn’t happen in the way we want it to. But the good news is it might be simpler than you think to go plastic-free. There are plenty of time- and budget-friendly hacks to help and it feels great to start the day knowing you’ve done something that’s kinder to the planet!
Here, is our guide to simple swaps that can be made to reduce the amount of waste that is created.
Make your own snacks
Supermarket snacks are super convenient but they all come pre-wrapped and are often expensive. Snack bars and dried fruit generally come in some kind of plastic, much of which is non-recyclable, so the answer could be to make your own. Cut cheese into lengths from a bigger block and batch-bake flapjacks; rather than individual yoghurts, why not buy a big pot, containing multiple servings, and decant portions from it instead?
Try out your local plastic-free shop
Plastic-free shops are popping up nationwide and it is well worth dropping in. Take your own containers along and fill up with snacks like raisins, banana chips, apple rings and even crisps, leaving nothing to throw away at all!
Ditch the clingfilm
Throw out cling film, silver foil and plastic bags and keep sandwiches fresh in reusable sandwich wraps or cotton bags are also handy for carrying food in. They come in a range of sizes so there is bound to be one to fit around your child’s lunch. Some of them are machine washable, making it even easier to keep them clean.
Avoid disposable cutlery
If they take salads, pasta, yoghurts or something else that requires more than fingers to eat with don’t use non-biodegradable disposable knives, forks and spoons. Stock up on bamboo cutlery: it’s lightweight and durable and can be composted when it’s past its best.
Swap plastic bottles for stainless steel
Individual juice cartons fit neatly into lunchboxes but will usually then get thrown straight into the dining hall bin (even if they don’t, many councils don’t recycle them) and one-use bottles of water and squash only add to the plastic problem. Send your little ones to school with a reusable stainless steel bottle, with a matching straw; or you can find straws made from bamboo or silicone.
Switch to a bamboo lunchbox
Lastly, there are some simple swaps that can be made to the lunchbox itself. Bamboo and stainless steel containers are practical and hygienic and are made without any harsh chemicals. If you like to ensure your kids get something hot on chilly days then pack it in an organic canvas lunch bag, insulated with wool, to keep food warm until they’re ready to eat.