vintage metal lunchbox

I remember the lunches that Mom packed for my sister and me every day when we went to St. Rita’s Elementary School. The school did not have a cafeteria that served lunch, so we had to bring our own every day.

We carried our lunches in metal lunch boxes with a hinged lid. They even had a matching thermos with its own cup attached to the top of it. The outside of the box might feature the image of a superhero, like Bat Girl, or maybe an image of a favorite TV show, like “Lost in Space.” Since they were metal, they were pretty sturdy and would last for several years.

Mom would pack us sandwiches wrapped in aluminum foil. They could be baloney, peanut butter and jelly, tuna, cheese, and even once in a while ham and cheese on white bread with a little mustard or mayo. Mom filled our insulated thermoses with juice or chocolate milk.

These were the foods and drinks that we were used to having and it was fun to carry our colorful lunch boxes to school.

A lot of kids today bring their own lunches to school, and I think that is a great way to have a sustainable school lunch. Students can carry reusable boxes or sacks as well as thermoses or reusable drink bottles. Aluminum foil wrap can be brought home to be washed and reused or recycled.

And today, there are so many more sustainable options for packing school lunches. Beeswax wrap and reusable sandwich bags made of organic cotton are just a few of the possibilities. There’s really no reason to create more waste or spend money on disposable plastic sandwich bags for school lunches.

Another bonus to a home-packed lunch is that parents can control the contents to ensure the food is healthy and eco-friendly!

Sometimes, the things that we had to do in the past out of necessity, like bringing our lunches to school, wind up being the best things that we can do for ourselves and for the Earth.

By Joanna Lacey

Joanna Lacey lives in New York and has collected thousands of ideas from the frugal habits of her mother and grandmother. You can find her on Facebook at Joanna the Green Maven.