waste-free-lunch-blog - Yampa Valley Sustainability Council

Waste-Free Lunch
Yampa Valley students are working hard to reduce waste in the lunchroom. All schools
collect recycling and upcycling, and some schools are even collecting food waste to be
turned into compost. But, after all the lunchroom waste has been recycled, upcycled
and composted, there are still many leftovers that have to go in the trash. Most of that
trash is single-use plastic bags (zip lock bags) and plastic packaging from single-serving
items (lunchables, plastic spoons and forks, and straws). This plastic packaging is not a
sustainable use of resources, even if we could recycle it. All the plastic that humankind
has manufactured since the beginning of time is still on earth. It does not go away. In
other words, plastics can be made from fossil fuels, but plastics cannot be reconverted
back into fossil fuels.
Tips to Reduce Lunchroom Waste
Choose to Reuse: At the end of the lunch period, the primary items in
the trash can are zip lock bags and plastic, disposable tableware.
Packing your lunch with reusable containers and wraps is an easy way
to reduce our lunchroom trash. There are so many great options out
there for reusable lunchboxes and storage containers – from simple
Tupperware to multi-compartment “bento boxes.” And, a container
that can be used again means one less plastic bag in the trash.
YVSC’s Sustainable Schools Program is partnering with Eco Lunch Gear to make reusable
cloth sandwich wraps and bags available to Steamboat students and raise money for
sustainability projects in our schools, such as Zero Waste school events. For every Eco
Lunch Gear Sandwich Wrap, Snack Bag, Jumbo Snack Bag or Cinch Sack sold, the
Sustainable Schools Program will receive $4. (The Sandwich Wraps are especially cool
because they double as a placemat!)
To purchase your reusable waste-free lunch products, go to www.ecolunchgear.com.
Please enter the code YVSC at checkout.
Other resources for reusables:
If you need to pack a spoon or fork, please pack a metal one that can be taken home
and washed and reused. If you don’t want to send your best flatware to school, buy
silverware odds and ends at a thrift store specifically for use in your child’s school
Reduce pre-packaged food: There are so many lunch choices that come individually
pre-packaged, such as Lunchables and single-portion bags of chips. These items are
easy for us when we pack lunch but the packaging is often not recyclable. Try to buy
bulk or in bigger quantities and use reusable containers to pack small portions.
Take a break from Tetra Paks: We all use them – juice and milk boxes and pouches.
Most are not recyclable or upcyclable, and they end up in the trash bins in the
lunchroom every day. Instead of a juice or milk box in the lunch, fill a reusable bottle at
home or choose a beverage packaged in a recyclable plastic bottle or aluminum can.
Remind your child about what can be recycled and composted in his/her lunch: While
you are packing lunch, take a minute to talk with your child about what can be recycled,
upcycled and composted. If you are not sure, please take a look at the list below or stop
by the lunchroom anytime.
 All plastics 1 through 7 – this includes yogurt containers, cup-o-soups, water
bottles, etc.
 Aluminum foil and cans
 Clean paper and cardboard
 Glass
 Food scraps (sandwich crusts, apple cores, orange peels, etc.)
Paper napkins
 Cookie and candy wrappers
 Juice pouches
 Chip bags
Thanks for helping to bring our school cafeterias closer to Zero Waste!