Photo of a forest floor.       Image of kids eating lunch.

Packing an Environmentally-Friendly, or Waste-Free Lunch

As Americans we’ve come to desire and depend on the many convenience products that are available to us, and nowhere is this more evident than in the school lunch room. Most lunches packed at home include items in single-use plastic bags, aluminum foil, or wax paper, or single-serving items that come in their own disposable package. Admittedly, these products are extremely convenient, but they come at a cost. They tend to be less nutritional than fresh foods, they cost more (one study showed that lunch based on convenience foods costs nearly $250 more per year than a waste-free lunch made with reusable packaging and fresh foods), and there are very real environmental costs as well. The primary impact of convenience foods is the waste generated by the disposable packaging. Vermonters generate on average nearly four (4) pounds of solid waste each day. That’s 1,460 pounds each year -- It adds up quickly! I t has been estimated that on average a school-age child using a disposable lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year. That equates to 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for just one average-size elementary school!

We are asking that teachers, students, and adult chaperones joining us for Science on the Green come prepared with as environmentally-friendly and waste-free a lunch as they can. We will provide recycling containers for glass and aluminum, and we will be accepting organic waste to feed the worms in our vermicomposter. Our goal is to generate as little waste as possible.

Waste-free lunches include the use of reusable food containers, drink containers, utensils, and napkins. They avoid the use of disposable packaging, such as prepackaged foods, plastic bags, juice boxes and pouches, paper napkins, and disposable utensils.

Together, we can make a BIG difference. Thank you!


Please click on the image at left to learn more about packing a waste free lunch.


Please click on the image at left to download a letter about packing a waste free lunch you can personalize and then send to parents. (Word format - 2 pages - please print duplex to help save our trees - thank you!)

ANR home page ANR Calendar Finding Information on the ANR site ANR Publications Contact Information for ANR Summary & links to ANR Permit Information ANR Central Office Dept. of Environmental Conservation Dept. of Fish & Wildlife Dept. of Forests, Parks & Recreation Other Departments & Agencies You & the Environment Maps & Mapping at ANR Links of interest to Students and Teachers Vermont State web site