Did you know that most of the waste in schools is sent there in children's lunch boxes?
It is estimated that each child produces approximately 30 kilograms of waste per year just from their school lunch. That would be more than some kids weigh! Imagine this amount multiplied by the number of children at school.
It doesn't have to be that way when you consider that a no waste or low waste lunch is easy and is a healthier and cheaper option than buying pre-packaged foods.
A no waste lunch includes:
- paper wrap, brown paper recycled bags but no plastic bags or aluminium foil
- reusable containers that get taken home and washed
- lunch boxes that have separate sections
- forks and spoons that get washed and re-used but no plastic cutlery
- drink bottles that can be used each day.
Find out how to make a no waste lunch In search of the perfect lunch box.
You might not have thought about the impact the canteen has on the environment, but it can be significant. The Federation of Parents and Citizens' Association (P&C) suggests parents should try to reduce their environmental impact on schools.
P&C Federation president Di Giblin says: "Canteen volunteers should take stock of the packaging around the items they sell and what it adds to the overall waste in the school." And, she says, canteens should "consider alternative products that minimise waste to do our bit for the environment".
Ms Giblin suggests that instead of sending waste to landfill, schools can:
- add it to the school compost bin (or ask the school to create one)
- start a worm farm to be managed by a class of students
- use a cardboard recycling bin.
Canteens can also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a shut-down procedure so fridges and freezers are not left empty and running over holiday periods.
Shopping for school items
When buying new items for school and home, ask these questions:
- Is it needed?
- Is it durable?
- Is it manufactured in an environmentally friendly way?
- Can it be recycled?
- Does it contain hazardous chemicals?
You might want to consider:
- buying refillable pens and pencils for your child to take to school
- buying recycled paper products when you buy paper for the printer at home, notebooks, folders, etc
- using solar-powered calculators to save on batteries
- covering school books in recycled paper rather than contact and plastic.