Waste-Free Lunches Program for Schools
The purpose of a waste-free lunch is to reduce the waste generated each day in school cafeterias. This not only protects the environment by conserving energy, natural resources, and landfill space, but it also cuts down on the amount of waste schools generate, which can help keep schools clean, inside and out, and reduce solid waste disposal costs.
Ideally, when packing a waste-free lunch, the objective is to only pack foods that are consumed completely, so no waste is produced, and to use containers that can be reused day after day. However, when waste cannot be avoided, consider packing products that can be recycled or composted instead of thrown in the trash can.
(Even if a school does not have a compost bin or if some recyclable materials are not accepted for recycling in the community, using recyclable or compostable materials is still a good first step as it raises awareness of what can be composted and recycled. If this is the case in your school or community, you may wish to go a step further and build a compost bin for your school or work with your community to increase the number and types of items accepted for recycling.)
Waste-Free Lunch Toolkit
If your school would like to initiate a waste-free lunch program, fill out the sign-up sheet below and return to DEQ. A number of informative and helpful tools can also be downloaded below or, if requested on the sign-up sheet, DEQ will send your school a complete waste-free lunch toolkit.
- Sign-Up Sheet
- What's In Your Lunch Box Fact Sheet
- Ideas to Make Packing Waste-Free Lunches Fun and Exciting
- Organize a Waste-Free Lunch Day (or Week)!
- Pack Waste-Free and Healthy
- Did You Pack a Waste Free Lunch? (worksheet)
- Sample Newsletter
- Sample Letter to Parents
Contact DEQ's Pollution Prevention Coordinator to obtain the following materials:
- Waste-free lunch poster for your school's cafeteria
- CD containing all of the above materials electronically (except the poster) that may be modified to fit your needs