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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Healthy snacks that are good for the Earth, too!

I just watched a link featuring "Healthy summer snacks for kids" can view it here:

It reminds me of the irony that I'm faced with so many times when trying to find eco-friendly solutions.  It's so great that they featured and their reusable lunchboxes.  The irony is that the hosts of the show are gushing over the "cute packaging" of the space-age, NASA-designed applesauce pack and ProBug pack which go in the exact opposite direction of what ecolunchboxes is really all about.

I wonder why they didn't mention that you could fill one of the reusable containers with applesauce or yogurt and be just as healthy and also good to the planet.  Or better yet, you could pack an apple with no packaging at all!  I'm a mom of 3 boys with very big appetites.  I completely understand the need for convenience.  I know we need to have quick snacks for our kids that are healthy and nutritious.  But we need to stop buying into all the 'cuteness' and 'convenience' that is being sold and realize that the best snacks we can send our kids are really the simplest ones:  grapes, apples, oranges, bananas, carrots, etc.

I mentioned the words "waste-free lunch" at a recent PTO meeting and was met with gasps and replies that it would never happen at our school.  Why not?  Is it really that hard?  Or have we just been brainwashed to believe it is?

As the TerraCycle coordinator for my school, I see first-hand how much is thrown away each day from the students' lunches.  When I collect juice pouches to be upcycled by TerraCycle, half of them are at least 30% full (and a juice pouch isn't very big to begin with!) and some are completely sealed with the straw still in the wrapper when they are thrown in the TerraCycle bin.  I think not only about how many resources could be saved, but also how much money could be saved by hard-working parents if they would only realize how much better it would be to send a reusable bottle for their child's drink.  Whatever is left can be saved for later or they can adjust the amount they send based on what is being brought home each day.

The same is true for chip bags.  I collect several each week that haven't even been opened and many more that are half full when they are "thrown away".

Is that convenient?  Is the convenience worth the waste that comes with it?

Lugging cases of juice pouches and bottled water home from the big-box store doesn't seem any easier to me than pre-filling a few reusable bottles each week.

What if the school glamourized fruits and vegetables the way they do chips, cookies and ice cream?  What if instead of moldy bananas and half-bruised apples the kids could choose from fresh fruits and veggies?  That's the world I hope for.  Our kids need us to wake up from the marketing blitz and help them make better choices....for their health and the health of the planet!


  1. Wow, my friend Stacey pointed me to your blog - it's amazing how Kates think alike!
    See my green business at
    - which includes reusable products for a waste-free lifestyle :D

  2. I think when I actually get a job teaching (knock on wood!) I am going to cause quite a stir. I hope I don't get fired too quickly!

    Keep on fighting the good fight, I say. Thanks!


  3. I heard something on NPR about kids being required to take financial basics classes - I wonder why there won't be any gov mandated 'eco' classes?!?!? haha...I don't REALLY wonder why.

    I'm with ya', Kate. It's terribly difficult, though, when the stores don't make it easy for buzy/frazzled/broke parents of little demanders. You know, of course, that my kids get hand-me-downs and bulk yogurt and even v8 juice in the sippy cups instead of a juice box BUT if I'm out and the kid needs something, it's usually only offered in multiple layers of packaging.

    The funny part is that the stuff gets dropped immediately on the ground and put right in the mouth anyway...what good was the packaging???