It's crazy to think that June is already upon us, and halfway over.
Plastic Free July always creeps up on me like a stealthy child, so this year I'm ready!
I thought I'd share with you my own family journey with Waste Free Lunches and how my own frustration ended up helping create a popular product that now helps other families reduce their waste.
So, we started our plastic-free waste journey about 5 years ago after I'd read about it on an Australian eco blog, it was a great way to focus my frustrations about wasteful packaging and as a result, it's helped find some really good savings.
We find the majority of the family waste comes from food packaging, so let's look at our waste-free lunch story and I'll show you how easy being waste-free can be and how you can save some serious cash!
There are FOUR things I recommend investing in for waste-free lunches:
1) Waste Free Lunch Bag:
My boys have been using their lunch bags for 4+ years now. Previously I'd buy those plastic lunch boxes every term, and they would always easily damage and be really hard to clean.
We tried all different kinds of lunch boxes/bags; the full hard plastic ones with little compartments, ones with no compartments, the insulated "wipeable ones" etc, none of them lasted.
They all ended up being binned. I ended up disappointed and feeling ripped off. At $15-20 each, it was so wasteful.
So, I decided to make my own based on my Happy Bucket pattern with some modifications to make it user-friendly. Below is my son Felix's actual lunch bag, that I borrowed one day for a market at the beginning of our Waste-Free journey (note the plastic yoghurt pottle and muesli bar).
They worked so well I started making them to sell, and it's now my biggest seller!
For $45-65 a lunch bag, I've estimated I've saved nearly $300 per child on lunch boxes alone.
2) Refuse plastic wrap and sandwich bags
We used to buy plastic wrap and sandwich bags almost every month. This cost us between $30-60 per year, which doesn't seem like much but if you add that up over the last 4 years, it's $120 - $240 and that's some usable cash!
So what do we do instead?
For the last 4 years I've used a mix of containers and re-usable wraps.
We had a bunch of Sistema containers from the past (buying plastic lifestyle), and are now replacing them as they break.
At the beginning of this year I purchased our first metal food container, a Meals in Steel three compartment box from our local Environment store - EcoLand. My oldest son is happily using it two terms later, and I'm hopeful that it will last me until then end his school life.
Cost $35 for a two layer tin + a mini container that's perfect for nuts etc...
I've used a variety of different kinds from Honey Wraps to local ones from the Nelson Market and I love them. I think my favourite is the stitched ones that you can pop nuts, cookies, muffins etc into, although they're a bit hard to clean.
For a $10-15 investment you can get a year or so of use.
3) Washable Metal Drink bottle and or coffee cup
Reusable drink bottles are everywhere these days.
I recommend one for each member of your family.
I picked up single walled metals ones for my kids for about $10.
For myself, I invested in a double walled insulated Drink bottle (as seen in my new lunch bag images). Now, I drink cool fresh water everywhere I go, even in the middle of summer. It only cost me $40.
So, let's look at the numbers:
Wasteful lunch Investment over 4 years:
Lunch box : $300 per child x 2 = $600
Plastic wrap: $120 - $240 for the family (so minimum $60 per child)
Water bottles: too many to count
Wasteful Total: $420 per child x 2 = $840
Waste Free - Plastic Free investment (for four years):
Lunch Bag: $45 (lasted 4+ years so far and still looking good)
Kids Drink Bottle: $10 each
Total: $120 per child x 2 = $240
WASTE-FREE Savings: $600
Now that's a big difference, there is no time like the present to stop a wasteful "convenient" habit. Instead of stocking up on the cheapest option this year, invest in some thoughtful, well-made items that will last and you'll be saving time and money in the long run.
One of my philosophies in life and business is to make and buy quality, so that I'm using less resources both physically and financially. And as an added bonus I have 3 less things to think about when it comes to lunches and grocery shopping.
To grab your own Lunch bag, and kick off your financial and planet saving plan, you can find my full range here.
Here are some of my favourite inspiring resources to help you on your plastic free journey:
+ The Rubbish Trip - Zero waste Regional Shopping Guide