Monday, August 23, 2010

A Greener School Year

My children are returning to school next week. Part of our journey towards simpler living includes having less of an impact on the environment. Our family is trying to live greener and this year for school I want to use less (or no!) baggies, plastic wrap, plastic cutlery and paper napkins.

It was actually my five year old daughter who inspired this part of our journey. Last year her wonderful teacher was very conscious of showing the children how to respect their planet. My daughter came home and informed me that I should turn off the water as I brushed my teeth because I was “hurting the earth.” She would turn lights off around the house and show us what items in our household should be recycled.

As were were preparing to go back to school I took the opportunity to look for some eco friendly items for lunches and snacks. I was amazed at what I found. There are so many inventive, earth friendly, talented companies out there creating amazing things. Here are a few I plan to use this year.

The biggest question was what kind of container to use for our lunches. After a demonstration at the Farmer’s Market I ended up buying Tiffin Boxes from To-Go Ware. They are a stainless steel tiered lunch tin that can carry a number of items. Ours came with a mini stainless steel tin perfect for dip, salad dressing or little snack items. I bought them for school but have used them all summer. They are wonderful! They can fit a large variety of items in a small space (plus my children love putting together their “lunch gadgets” as they call them.) Along with the Tiffin Boxes I bought each child a RePEat Utensil Set, made of bamboo. They are compact, beautiful and each utensil holder is made out of recycled plastic bottles. The bamboo set contains a spoon, knife, fork and chopsticks.

Now I was on the hunt for a lunch bag. I wanted one that closed on top so my children could carry it to school without losing any of the items. I also wanted enough room for the tin and a water bottle. That’s when I discovered Dabawalla Bags. They are colourful, kid friendly bags with designs that don’t involve cartoon characters or action figures. They are crafted from eco-sponge, an innovative neoprene-like fabric that passed an ecological certification process that tests for over 100 harmful substances. Aren’t they cute?

During the school year my children carry a lot of items back and forth to school. Seems like I am always on the hunt for a small bag to carry show-and-tell, books or school projects. I came across this blog and Etsy shop that gave me the solution on how to tote these things to school. They are called Origami Food Bags and they are one of my new favourite household items. Not only can they be used for school but I plan to bring them to the local Farmer’s Market to hold all my fruit and vegetables.

From the same Etsy shop I also bought a Furoshiki (wrapping cloth) for my children to use as a napkin. Here I wrapped it around the Tiffin Box but there are unlimited uses for a Furoshiki! Quite amazing.

I think our use of plastic baggies bothered me the most. This year I found a company called Wrap N Mat. They have different sized pouches that can hold sandwiches, carrots or other snacks. When it is time to eat you open up the pouch, lay it flat and use it as placemat! They can be hand washed and left to air dry.

All of these companies have their own stories on their websites and are worth a visit. I don’t have enough room in this post to tell you about their fair trade practices, care for the environment or charitable programs.

I look forward to living a greener life with my family this year. And, I know my daughter will be very proud to take her items to school knowing that she is “helping the earth.”


  1. I agree, there are so many great products available out there - it's just a matter of finding them. I love the ones you have selected.

    Some schools over here now are starting to ban plastic wrap and packaging. Gets you thinking about the products that are out there.

  2. I like the idea of those Wrap & Mats. We don't use many baggies, but we do use some, so those would really help out!

  3. What a great idea LJ! I think it would be a wonderful idea to start that in Canada as well.

  4. What a great lot of different ideas for lunches thanks for the tips, cheers Marie

  5. i hate plastic bags too! thanks for the post, we'll have to get some wrap & mats... i'm sure joe would love taking those to work haha!

  6. I loved this post! You have so many great ideas. My kids have something called laptop lunchboxes, that eliminate the need for plastic bags, but I really like the Tiffin boxes. And those wrap mats are so cool!