Greener Living

Making Our School Lunches Litterless, One Funkin at a Time #LetsBeLitterFree

By this time you know we’re an eco-friendly, cloth diapering family. Over the past five years we’ve saved somewhere in the neighbourhood of 12,000 paper disposable diapers. That’s a whole lot of diapers! But of course diapers aren’t the only thing that can be replaced with cloth alternatives. For example, what could be easier than replacing your paper napkins with cloth?

Ever since Tee started attending school full-time and eating lunches in class, I’ve made a point of sending waste-free, litterless lunches with her. We use stainless steel containers, reusable snack bags, and a much loved Hello Kitty stainless steel water bottle to keep all those sandwich baggies, plastic wrap, tin foil, disposable packaging, and juice boxes out of the landfill.

I recently realized though, that Tee’s been using paper towels at school to clean up after lunch. Even though we’ve been using cloth napkins at home for years, somehow I missed including one in her lunch! We recently received some Funkins napkins for Earth Month, and I knew right away these would be perfect to send to school with her.

Love all these fun Funkins prints!

Now that Tee’s five, she’s been quite vocal about all the things she’s old enough to do now. I keep telling her that driving the car is a bit too ambitious, but making her own lunch? That I’m on board with. So this week Tee started helping me make her lunches. She loves putting her sandwich together, peeling the carrots for carrot sticks, and choosing which Funkin napkin to pack with her lunch. We call it the Funkin of the Day!

Today we made a deviled egg salad sandwich with a hard boiled egg, my homemade mayonnaise, and a pinch each of black pepper, chipotle chili powder, and dried mustard powder on gluten-free bread.

Ditch sandwich baggies for a reusable stainless steel container.

And then Tee peeled the carrots, and I cut them into sticks. She packed them up in a reusable snack bag, managing to sneak one or two as we worked together.

Snacks go in a reusable, washable snack bag.

Each reversible Funkins napkin is made with high quality CPSIA compliant 100% cotton and printed with low impact dyes. At 13″ x 15″, they’re a great size to do double duty as a stylish placemat at her table before wiping her mouth and hands after lunch. At the end of the school day, Tee knows the routine: bring her containers and water bottle into the kitchen, then drop off her Funkin in the laundry room.

Today’s Funkin of the Day has superheroes on it. This is one of our favourites!

Today's Funkin of the Day has superheroes on it!

Tee wanted to show you how she packs her litterless lunch for school.

They’re not all for Tee though. I like to keep a couple in the diaper bag for when we eat out. Cloth napkins don’t fall apart when you scrub sticky barbecue sauce off fingers or clean up a spaghetti face. Instead of having to wave down a server and getting the stinkeye because I keep asking for more paper napkins, one or two Funkins will cover the messiest job. And when it’s full, we just take it to the restroom, rinse it in the sink, and wipe the kids down with the damp cloth so they’re really clean.

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How old were you kids when they stared making their own lunches? How do you reduce lunch litter?

Disclosure: I am taking part in the Funkins blog campaign. While I have received compensation as part of my affiliation with this program, the opinions shared are my own.

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  • Love these!

    When I really think back to when I was packing lunches for my boy 10 yrs ago, or watching what others had in their lunch…..there was so much waste!!!!!! Plastic baggies, paper products, juice boxes, all kinds of packaging. So very wasteful. I’m so mindful of that now, and hubby laughs sometimes at the amount of snack pouches and stainless steel water bottles I’ve accumulated.

    I wouldn’t have it any other way lol

    • Yep, it bugs me the amount of trash one simple meal can create. I have a lot of snack bags too, but my second is starting school this September so I need every one! 🙂

  • Interesting concept but I feel like you are trading one evil for another. Your water consumption goes up. Water is not a renewable resource.

    • I don’t think your assessment is accurate. Yes, water and energy goes up a little, and there are environmental costs associated with growing and harvesting cotton and/or linen. But I use a high efficiency washing machine, and the small amount of water and energy required to wash cloth napkins with my regular laundry is much less than the water, energy, and resources needed to cut down trees, process and manufacture thousands of paper napkins per person per year, manufacture the packaging, transport them to the distributor, then to the store, then to my home, then to the landfill, every week. Technically, water IS a renewable resource as the amount of water on earth does not change and we have a rain cycle. However, our drinkable water stores are gradually being depleted by contaminants and pollutants, especially those released by large-scale manufacturing like those that make paper products. I think cloth is the winner here.

  • Love these! We use plain washcloths all over our house in place of napkins, paper towels, etc., but they are definitely not this cute. I agree about the scrubbing part… I hated using paper towels because they fell apart almost immediately. For some reason my husband still prefers paper (I don’t get it!), but as long as I’m doing the grocery shopping, he’s not getting those paper towels. 😉

  • Olivia, We want to thank you and your adorable little Tee for your wonderful and informative post showing how to pack a litterless lunch. You and your family have done such an amazing job at keeping your overall household waste down and we are thrilled to now be included in your eco-conscious routine of packing waste-free lunches. We love your tips explaining how simple it is to include a Funkin in the diaper bag so you’ll always have it on hand for a quick clean-up, especially while your out to eat with the kiddos! That is such a great way to help keep a family on the go “green” while leaving a minimal paper trail behind them! We are so happy Tee loves her superhero Funkin, she’s a SUPER girl too!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!