When you’re packing your child’s lunch for school, do you use single-use disposable packaging and utensils? If so, have you ever considered how much trash these lunches contribute to landfills over the span of a week, a year, or an entire school career?

According to the EPA, the average person in America creates about 4.4lbs of trash per day.

If that sounds like a lot to you (and it should), it’s time to make a change. Here are five children’s lunch box ideas that can help you ditch the extra trash for good.

1. Get a Reusable Lunch Box

Many of our parents shooed us out the door to the school bus with a paper or plastic bag to carry our lunches in. But with the availability of fun, fashionable, reusable lunch boxes, we have no excuse to do the same.

A decent child’s lunchbox costs between $5 and $10, keep their food insulated, and dramatically cuts down on the amount of waste produced per lunch. And, if you find a lunch box with a bento-inspired design, you won’t even have to pack food in individual containers! The options for bento box lunches are endless, and they make it easy to let your culinary creativity shine.

2. Use Cloth Napkins

Cloth napkins are a fun and fancy addition to a kid’s lunch, but they aren’t expensive. In fact, not only do they drop the trash-per-lunch ratio, but they can also be made from things you already own! Double waste reduction!

Before throwing out any old clothes, fabric tablecloths, or bedsheets, check to see if their fabric would be suitable for a napkin. Then, cut out napkin-sized squares or rectangles and hem the edges by hand or with a sewing machine. If you’re feeling extra creative, add some personalized embroidery or a monogram.

3. Skip the Juice Boxes

Every kid loves a juice box, but they’re incredibly wasteful. Rather than buying individual juice boxes, get a small, reusable water bottle that fits inside a lunch box. This also gives you the option to choose the fresh-squeezed, no sugar added, or not-from-concentrate juices that are difficult to find in pre-boxed form.

4. Wrap Their Sandwiches

Putting a PB&J in a disposable plastic baggie is a thing of the past. Instead, pack it in a glass or plastic container with a lid. And if you don’t like the idea of sending containers that could break, give reusable sandwich wraps a try!

5. Avoid Plastic Utensils

Plastic forks, spoons, and knives are responsible for a significant amount of America’s plastic pollution. So instead of sending your child to school with single-use cutlery, pack some metal or bamboo utensils from home. Not only will you save money on disposable forks, but you’ll also be one step closer to a zero-waste lunch!

Go Green With These Children’s Lunch Box Ideas

There’s no better way to teach your kids about making eco-friendly choices than leading by example. By using these children’s lunch box ideas to cut down on single-use plastic waste, you’ll be showing them how fun and easy it can be to help save the planet.

For more ways to improve your family’s well-being, check out our health archives.

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