Back to school means back to a routine, back to feeling crazy busy and back to packing lunches. Aside from the daily content question of what to pack, have you given much thought to how you’re packing your lunches? A waste-free lunch by definition is one that contains no throwaway packaging or food leftovers. In terms of lunch gear products, re-usability is the number one factor when packing a waste-free lunch. A second factor, critical for your child’s health, is non-toxicity and a final factor to consider is durability. If you’re going to invest in reusable lunch gear, it makes sense to ensure it’s made to last. It also makes sense to encourage your child’s input on colours and patterns to encourage them to pack up their reusables for taking home.
Of all of the weekly challenges in the SC Johnson 30 Green Days Challenge, recycling is my all-time favourite. It’s not the easiest task for our family, but it is definitely the most personally satisfying! Living on an island 40 feet from the shore means that all groceries, gardening supplies and bags have to be brought across in a wheelbarrow on our boat. Recycling, garbage and yard waste have to be carted across the other direction to be disposed of properly. For our family this has always meant two things:
1. We purchase refillable containers and buy in bulk where possible. I have fancy jars with chalkboard paint on the front and feel very crafty when I fill them. The process also makes me prepare more home-cooked meals for the family.
2. We compost everything (including dryer lint and egg cartons) so as to reduce the amount of garden soil we have to buy and bring across to bolster the gardens. It also saves us hauling garbage back across to put in landfills.
As with any goal, we do have a long way to go in terms of recycling. This week (and henceforth I hope), this is what I will focus on:
1. I am guilty of not removing labels and washing jars and cans properly. I will fix this. Or have the kids add this task to the ways they can earn a few extra dollars. Removing labels and washing cans ensures that items sent to recycling facilities are never rejected.
2. We also tend to toss beer cans and wine bottles into the recycling when we could be returning them to the store for a refund. I will set up a bin in my trunk for the returnable containers. Even though the family has always recycled these containers, we may consume less if we add in the extra step of returning the items.
3. I like to buy on sale and I’ll admit that when they are on sale, I buy premade, processed foods like family-sized lasagnas (that come in a foil pan inside a box). I will go back to my Sunday routine of cooking double and triple recipes and freezing family meals to pull out during the week. Eliminating packaging by cooking for myself and re-using my own dishes is always preferable. When I do purchase processed foods, I will try harder to make sure they come in fully recyclable packaging.
4. Birthday parties and Christmas always create masses of garbage – plastic from toy wrappings and cartons from all of the tech that I adore. I vow to gift in alternate ways: donate to charity or purchase unique and special items on Etsy that will be cherished and don’t come in exorbitant packaging.
5. I have a confession. I do not actually know for sure if milk cartons and other containers made of something other than plastic, glass or metal can be recycled in my area. I will make an effort to research the criteria in my city to ensure that I am recycling all that I can.
6. Part of recycling involves the reuse of furniture and necessities around the house. I just bought a new slow cooker and instead of tossing the older one, which still functions, I will list it as a free item on Craigslist. Looking around my home, there are many pieces of furniture, glassware and other ‘treasures’ that could be more appreciated and put to use by another family. Let the culling begin!!!
This past week’s water challenge got the family into a routine of putting the environment at the front and center of our consciousness. Turning off lights, taking shorter showers and repurposing rainwater have become part of the norm. I am thrilled that the kids are becoming aware of each tiny step they can take to help our planet, and this challenge – even in two weeks – has forever altered our footprint on the earth.
While SC Johnson is the sponsor of the 30 Green Days Challenge, all opinions and comments within the post are my own.