Is it just me, or did summer fly by? I know in my household, Labor Day has always been the last “hurrah!” before the new school year began the following day.
Preparing for a new school year is no small feat, and certainly many items are on the never ending list to be accomplished and crossed off before the school bells ring and your child runs off with his or her friends, full of smiles, in anticipation for the year to come.
Of all the many things a mother, father, or caretaker has to do to prepare for the school year ahead, few are as big as how to pack the daily school lunches. It is no secret that waste from school lunches is piling high. Many schools have adopted a “Recycle Program” in attempts to help save the Earth, and not waste so much food. Of course there are also the harmful effects on one’s health of constantly using plastic, or the desire parents have that the food they spend so long to prepare will be eaten or saved, and not just thrown away.
Thankfully, there are many options to help with this! Lets take a look at a few ways to maximize the utilization of food, minimize waste, and consider a few “essentials” that can help this all come together! Did you know that, according to New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, a single student produces, on average, a total of 45 to 90 pounds of garbage each year all from disposable lunches? At an elementary school in Ventura County, CA, students were filling eight barrels a day with lunch waste! Sadly, this waste included mostly plastic water bottles, paper products, and plastic bags. The principal of Oak Hills Elementary was so exasperated by the situation that she finally insisted on a “zero waste tolerance” policy. Students were encouraged to begin using reusable containers and other “green” storage, in an effort to cut the garbage load down. Within just a few years, waste went down to just one barrel a day! (1)
Another element to consider is all the harmful effects plastics have on your child’s health. Probably the two biggest chemicals of concern are that of Bisphenol-A or BPA as well as Phthalates. BPA is just bad news. Shockingly, it was once given to animals, such as cows and chickens, to help them gain weight before they were slaughtered. BPA also makes plastic more durable and therefore is often added to all types of plastic ware. (2)
According to the National Institute for Environmental Health Services, Bisphenol-A is listed as a known endocrine disruptor. It is suspected of causing reproductive damage and birth defects that may lead to cancers of the breast or prostate later on in life. (3) (4)
Phthalates are also commonly found in food and beverage containers, though they reach many others things as well. Just like BPA, Phthalates are also endocrine disruptors with a wide range of harmful effects, including abnormal sexual development, premature breast development in females, and increased waist circumference and insulin resistance in adult males. (5)
The good news is that you do not have to succumb to the harmful effects of plastics, excess waste of disposable bags and water bottles, and wasted home-cooked, nourishing foods! Radiant Life offers a number of different glassware and stainless steal reusable lunch storage options. If you are concerned about your little one dropping and breaking glass, worry no more as a rubber protective cover surrounds all the Lifefactory storage containers. The Lifefactory items are probably my favorite in glassware as I can rest assured that even when lunch boxes are tossed across the playground, the contents would be safe! Check out the Lifefactory containers, as well as other reusable storage containers.
Of all the storage containers, I have to say, my personal favorite is the Stainless Steel Lunchbox with Removable Dividers. I like this option because stainless steel is lighter to trek around than glass, and I really appreciate that you can compartmentalize all your different foods into one container.
Another thing to consider is a reusable glass water bottle. The US Environmental Protection Agency had some alarming things to say on their web page regarding the water quality in schools. A few of those facts included:
- Thousands of public schools and licensed childcare facilities are not regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and therefore may or may not be conducting voluntary drinking water quality testing.
- Most lead gets into water after it leaves the local well or treatment plant and comes into contact with plumbing materials containing lead.
- Low levels of lead in blood have been associated with behavioral problems, learning disabilities and impaired growth. Very high blood lead levels can cause severe neurological problems such as coma, convulsions and even death. (6)
How scary to think that so many schools and day care facilities are not regulated for water quality! Of course, plastic disposable water bottles pose the same problem as the plastic bags and food storage did, but a reusable glass water bottle offers a much cleaner, safer, and even more economical option. By bringing a reusable bottle, your child can drink home-purified water, escape the nastiness in school water, and the health consequences of plastic bottled water. Check out the options Radiant Life offers for water bottles.
Do you have any other favorite Radiant Life “essentials” for back to school? Feel free to leave them in the comments below!