Friday, December 13, 2013

School Lunches


When I went to order some bamboo utensils from UKonserve (click here for link), I read some statistics on their website that really shocked me. Each day I sit with my students at lunch time. I am amazed by the amount of food and trash waste that is mindlessly thrown away every day but I had no idea of just how much was being discarded.

*Children's lunches create 3.5 billion pounds of garbage each year
*18,000 lbs of trash is generated each year from one-average sized elementary school
*It takes a 15 year old tree to produce 700 brown paper bags
*The average child generates 67 lbs of lunchtime trash each year
*Trash is often mistaken for food and eaten by sea life
*The US has 6% of the population and produces half of the world's garbage
*38 billion plastic water bottles end up in the landfill each year
*Plastic water bottles take 700 years before they start to decompose

What can we do about this? There are some very simple steps to take that would drastically lower this statistic and save you money.

1) Use a reusable lunch bag or box VS.paper bags

2) Use cloth napkins VS paper napkins

3) Use a thermos, lunch bot, or some type of reusable container VS. foil or ziploc bags BECAUSE: The Center of Ecoliteracy reported that "One average elementary school student eating homemade lunches is estimated to generate between 45-90 lbs of ziplock bags, foil pouches and other packaging waste each year, roughly equivalent to the body weight of a third to sixth grader".

4) Make food from scratch and/or from the bulk section VS. processed food in prepackaged, single serving bags

5) Reusable utensils VS plastic utensils

6) Use stainless steal water bottle VS juice boxes or disposable plastic water bottle

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Week 1 Count Down

The boys have looked forward to opening a new card every morning. With an unexpected parade and winter weather that moved into our town, we had to delay Day 7 to a later day. Besides that one hitch, we have enjoyed putting our electronics away to spend more time together.

Day 1: "Scavenger Hunt for your favorite candy" 

Only used candy that I could get from the bulk section.

Day 2: "French Toast and Hot Chocolate for dinner"

The Hot Chocolate we made from scratch. It was unbelievably easy and tasted so much better than the processed version in the packets.

Day 3: "After dinner we are making chocolate covered pretzels." 

Again, so easy and delicious. Sprinkles and candy we found in the bulk section. I normally try to avoid foods with artificial colors or flavors at all costs, however I do allow them to eat them on special occasions.

Day 4: "Stop at Goodwill and pick up a new board game."

The boys picked out 'Encore' which is a singing board game. We had a lot of great laughs since the majority of my family are not the best singers.

Day 5: "Random Act of Kindness Day: Do something nice for someone at school without being asked. We will talk about what we did at dinner "

I gave my co-worker a small gift.
Aaron gave a friend his a chocolate covered pretzel.
Noah cleaned the kitchen for Aaron.
Trey gave a friend a small gift.

Day 6: "Watch Elf with Egg Nog and Popcorn"

Day 7: Moved to future date

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

25 Count Down to X-mas

This time of year we are (like most families) especially busy.  Aaron has band practice, parades, banquets and concerts. Trey has wrestling practice and meets. Noah has chorus practice and concerts. Therefore, I spend a lot of time running around like a crazy woman without a lot of quality time with my family. At some point in late November, I took a step back, took some deep breaths and tried to figure out how we could continue with a crazy schedule AND still incorporate family time together.

This is why I came up with the idea of our own 25 day count down to Xmas, to run parallel with our 'experience' theme for presents. I broke down the activities as follows: 2/3 of zero waste activities (from making chocolate covered pretzels, playing a board game during dinner and eating dinner by candle light) and 1/3 of random act of kindness days. I found many great ideas online, however most were geared for young children and it was challenging to think of 25 activities teenage boys would enjoy.

I was a little apprehensive about the idea at first and  if they would feel they were too old, however they were very excited to open the first envelope on December 1. It is now the first thing they talk about in the morning and anxiously await to see what is written on the card.  The activities help remind my family of what is truly important during this time of year. Not the presents, but our family and spending quality time together.