Above & Beyond
The Brown Bag

Brown bagging it sure beats the cafeteria line in terms of helping to make sure that your child has healthy and fresh lunch options. Unfortunately, brown paper bags, plastic wrap and juice boxes go from container to waste once the mid-day feeding frenzy occurs. Put these eco-friendly lunch containers on your school supply shopping list this year. They will save your foods, save you money and help to save the planet from an over-abundance of discarded bags, baggies and bottles.

1Reusable lunch bagsReusable lunch bags

Reusable lunch bags come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are made in many different materials like cotton, nylon and recycled PET. Regardless of the material, they are a great alternative to the containers that are used and discarded every day. The Built lunch bags are actually made from neoprene, the wetsuit material, making them extremely durable and lightweight. Also machine-washable, these bags are great brown bag replacements for a trip to the cafeteria. Another fun brown bag replacement are eco-friendly lunch bags from Mimi the Sardine. Styled from Swedish-made, environmentally-friendly fabric, they are easy to clean and water resistant.

2A better way to wrap

A better way to wrap

Instead of plastic baggies, try the Wrap-N-Mat sandwich wrappers. Simply fold around sandwiches and snacks and unfold into a placemat. These cotton/polyester sandwich wraps are free from BPA, phthalates and lead, and replace thousands of plastic bags used in a lifetime. When using cloth, nylon and plastic-lined sandwich bags like the Wrap-N-Mat, consider wrapping sandwiches in a slightly damp napkin or in biodegradable wax paper before storing them in the reusable bag to help hold in moisture and keep the bag clean. Also, it's best to pack food in reusable cloth bags on the same day that they will be eaten.

3Have fun with lunch boxesHave fun with lunch boxes

Along with a healthy dose of nostalgia, many of the old metal and vinyl lunch boxes may come packing harmful elements like lead, PVC and phthalates. Lunch box systems provide an updated, stylish and fun approach to an old favorite. For instance, Laptop Lunch Bento Boxes are free from harmful chemicals, made from recycled content, recyclable, made in the USA and are dishwasher safe. The systems are perfect for school lunches – they include five microwave-safe, colorful food containers that fit like puzzle pieces into a thermal carrying case.

4Reusable containers ruleReusable containers rule

Ditch the disposable drink boxes, bottles and pouches for reusable containers that your kids will love. SIGG is a family favorite because they offer sizes and designs that appeal to kids and parents and keep beverages cold without transferring any tinny taste. Their manufacturing practices are just as refreshing – each bottle is produced with over 55% renewable energy, with minimal waste and over 99% of their waste is recycled.

Keep the eco-friendly lunchtime efforts going by using colorful cloth napkins, stainless steel or bamboo cutlery and packing self-contained snacks that travel well like apples, bananas, pears and figs.

More back-to-school food ideas

Budget-friendly snack ideas for kids
Mexican-inspired after-school snacks
8 After-school snacks for a hot day

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