Reduce Plastic Waste, One Lunchbox at a Time.

How to contribute as a community to reduce our impact on the Planet and our Health? Teuko met with Stéphanie Regni, founder of Fillgood, a Bay Area online zero waste store that offers alternatives to disposable plastics. Fillgood even offers a refill service for home and body products: it’s delivered to your door, making it easy to return your empty bottles. It’s the modern milkman!

The common unknown about plastic waste.

Plastic is a substance the Earth cannot digest. It was created to last forever and it is used for products designed to last minutes.  Did you know that while we throw away a huge amount of plastic every day,  a significant portion of it will not be recycled and will stay in landfills for thousands of years? A portion of it will even end up in the ocean.

plastic packagings Stephanie
Every piece of plastic displayed in this picture is not recyclable. Approximately 15 million US families prepare lunch boxes every day. If we consider they each use 2 plastic packagings per day, it means 60 million pounds of plastic waste that end up in landfills every year, in the US only…

A recent study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum predicts that if we keep producing and consuming plastics at predicted rates, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. As a consequence, plastic has entered the food chain: fish mistake it for food and now this toxic material is making its way onto our plates.

40% of plastics are disposable packagings for the goods we buy every day.  Sometimes this plastic is absolutely unnecessary, that’s why Stephanie has decided to focus on solutions that help people refuse and reduce their plastic consumption. We asked her what kind of minor changes we could easily make in our daily routine while teaching our kids how to make better choices too. After all, we have the responsibility to prepare their future.

3 best practices to reduce plastic waste in a lunchbox.

Shop Better. Here are 3 options to consider while grocery shopping:

  • Prefer family-size packaging rather than individual portions: individual packaging create a lot of waste and they are usually in plastic so they won’t be recycled. And it’s cheaper to buy family-size too, it’s a win-win! Examples of easy swaps: yoghurts, applesauce, cookies (in a big box), cheese.
  • Even better: buy in bulk! There are more and more bulk corners in grocery stores. Bring a bunch of cloth bags (washable) and fill them up with rice, pasta, cereals, dried fruits, nuts, lentils… you will avoid lots of packaging and have access to organic products at a lower price!
  • Last but not least: skip plastic bags when you buy produces. Use cloth bags or no bag at all (you’ll wash your produces at home anyway).

shop better

Store Better. Skip single-use plastics (say goodbye to ziplock) and favour safe items like:

  • Refillable stainless steel water bottles
  • Flatware in inox or bamboo
  • Thermos in Inox
  • Glass jar with metal on top
  • Glassware or inox containers

store better

Did you know? Pouring hot food in a plastic container or heating food in the microwave in a plastic container causes leaching of toxic chemicals from plastic to the food? Glass, stainless steel and porcelain are safe because they are inert materials.

Pack Better.

  • Make it simple. In the US 40% of the food is wasted, it’s estimated to be worth 165 billion dollars, it’s crazy. Making simple lunchboxes is key so that your kids actually eat and watch the portions.
  • Limit individual packaging solutions. For example, favour real fruits over applesauce pouches: fruits are more nutritious, they don’t need packaging and it’s way cheaper too.
  • Reusable containers even if they are a little bit more expensive. Label them and explain to your kids the importance of taking care of them. You can even explain why you’ve chosen to avoid disposable packaging; kids understand especially when there’s a link with nature and animals.

What is your best lunchbox packing hack as a Mum of 2?

We make school lunch nutritious but always simple. We ook from scratch in the morning or we rely on leftovers from our last meal. My tip here is to prepare a big meal, keeping in mind we’ll save some for my daughters’ lunchbox! Desserts are almost always fruits and sometimes we add a little treat like a cookie.

 

Snacks always count with a fruit, dried fruits (bought in bulk), homemade cookies or granola bars, cheese, sliced carrots. Always packaged in our small reusable containers of course 🙂.

Packing zero waste lunch boxes makes people happy, you’ll see!

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