An Easy 1-2-3 for a Sustainable Back-to-School Lunch

Keep Kids and Nature Healthy
Sep 3, 2015 4:20 PM ET

Olga Shuvalova, TerraPass

With summer ending and kids back to school, it’s hard enough getting your children out of bed each morning and into routine, not to mention the daily chore of making their lunches. It sounds simple, but this can be a daunting task: how to keep it healthy, interesting, tasty, and eco-friendly? There are quite a few good resources for DIY lunchable ideas that can be found here. With taste buds satisfied, TerraPass has you covered with 3 easy tips for a sustainable school lunch:

1.     Packaging.

The number one thing to remember when packing your child’s school lunch is to choose reusable bags and containers to hold the lovely sandwiches and snacks. If you use 1 zippy bag (2 grams weight) every school day, there will be about 1.6 kg more CO2-equivelent gases floating in the atmosphere when the year is done.

The solution? With your little one, check out eco-friendly websites such as and for the most sustainable and fun lunchtime packers around. Or you can simply reuse containers and clean out milk bags and add a favorite sticker to keep it sealed shut.

2.     The menu.

Make choosing food a fun experience. While it’s still farmer’s market season, take your kids along and have them help you choose seasonal, pesticide-free, fresh, and colorful produce they will love to eat. This is a learning experience which is good for your little one and the environment.  It will leave you feeling like a hero!

Consider a vegetarian lunch at least 1 day a week. If well-planned, no-meat meals can meet the nutritional needs of children and have some benefits for health and the environment. Bringing food from seed to table accounts for about 25% of all human CO2 emissions on our planet and vegetarian meals can cut your CO2 emissions by almost half! Find great tips for vegetarian lunches, here.

What else can you do? Read our blog to find out more about the impact of food and measure your emissions with TerraPass carbon footprint calculator. Let’s help make a sustainable future for our children!

3.     Something to wash that down?

Juice boxes seem easy and your kids may love them for their sugary sweetness. Yet, they may not seem so great when you find out that the carbon footprint of orange juice can be as high as 4.5 pounds per gallon - that’s more than the footprint of the much-discussed black coffee! Furthermore, juice packaging is not recyclable in most cases. Yes, even the teeny tiny packaging jams up our landfills!

Get your little ones into the habit of drinking lots of healthy drinks and water. Your kids will love having their own BPA-free, refillable containers with milk, green tea or home-made fruit smoothies. These containers won’t contribute to landfills the way plastic water bottles and juice boxes do.

Put your best efforts into reducing your impact and be sure to offset the rest of your impact for a net-zero CO2 lifestyle. Help keep Mother Earth healthy for you and your kids.

What’s in your kids’ lunchbox? Share on Facebook or tweet us the answer @Terrapass! And for more eco-friendly tips and information, visit our website or take a look at our Pinterest boards!