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Back to School Green: Waste-Free Lunches

It’s hard to believe it but back to school time is almost here. This year why not be a bit greener? One great way to reduce the waste caused by school is to pack a waste-free lunch. This is easier than you think! To start packing waste-free lunches you can either buy a kit that comes with everything you need, or you can put the supplies together yourself. We have put together a guide with what you need and what to avoid.


  • Lunch Bag- look for organic cotton or recycled plastic that says it’s free of BPA and lead.
  • Cloth Napkins- organic cotton is best.
  • Food containers- stainless steel is best, if plastic look for clear #5 plastic that says it’s BPA-free.
  • Silverware- stainless steel or bamboo is best.
  • Reusable water bottle- stainless steel is best. Glass is great but not best for packing in lunches.


  • PVC- PVC often contains lead and other toxic materials
  • Unknown plastic- avoid plastic when possible but if you must by plastic make sure it’s BPA free, #5 plastic is thought to be the safest choice.
  • Traditional lunch boxes- many of these contain lead or other harmful chemicals.
  • Vintage lunch boxes- this may seem eco-friendly but they may contain things like lead.

Disposable school lunches can create a lot of waste, around 67 pounds per year, per child! Just switching to waste-free lunches this year can make your child’s school year a lot greener. Many of these items can be used to pack your own lunch as well to save even more waste!

We encourage you to look locally for these types of products. However, when that isn’t possible be sure to support Green Oklahoma by shopping our new online store.

What are your favorite waste-free lunch items? And where do you shop for them? Share in the comments below or on our Facebook page.


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Lisa Sharp is the founder of Green Oklahoma. She is passionate about the environment and improving Oklahoma for future generations. She also writes on her personal blog Retro Housewife Goes Green.

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