Would you like to save hundreds of dollars for your family every year and avert thousands of pieces of trash?
The results of a study by ECOlunchbox show that a typical family wastes about $400 on throw-aways - and creates approximately 4,320 pieces of garbage at lunchtime unnecessarily every year.
“We know green lunches are healthy for people and the planet, but the results of our study strongly show that our pocketbooks are big winners, too,” says Sandra Harris, president and founder of ECOlunchbox.
ECOlunchbox calculates that a typical family with two children and one parent packing lunches uses about 9 plastic baggies daily (sandwich and two sides per person) at a cost of roughly 6 cents per Ziploc baggie, adding up to 54 cents spent daily on plastic baggies. That adds up to about $11 monthly and $132 annually. Other “lunch math” to consider is the extra cost of paper napkins, disposable utensils and pre-packaged foods.
But plastic baggies are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the hidden costs -- both in terms of dollars wasted and the burden to the environment -- of using throw-aways at lunchtime.
Doctors and researchers have linked BPA in numerous studies to hormone and thyroid problems, behavior issues, obesity, cancer, diabetes, and even kidney and heart conditions. A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology furthermore suggests there is a strong link between exposure to BPA and the increasing incidence of asthma.
Starting in about 2012, mainstream newspapers, magazines and television stations, such as the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Dateline NBC and scores of other media outlets, finally started to write about these health problems associated with plastics.
News reports widely explained that chemicals in plastics are perilous to human health because they are endocrine disrupters and hormone mimickers. These toxins are also harmful to the environment because less than 1% of plastics internationally are recycled and the remainder of discarded plastics is put in landfills or lost in the environment and will never biodegrade.
The best way to reduce garbage is to not create it. A waste-free lunch (sometimes called a litter-less, smart, garbage-less, waste-free, no-garbage or waste-not lunch) means that you have no packaging to throw away when you're done. All you’re left with is apple cores, banana peels and other biodegradable extras.
LUNCH WASTE A typical American school kid generates 67 pounds of discarded lunchbox packaging waste per school year. That’s more than 18,000 pounds annually for an average-size elementary school, which adds up nationwide to more than 1 billion pounds annually. A typical U.S. family using disposibles generates more than 4,000 pieces of lunch trash unnecessarily each year, according to our ECOlunchboxes Lunchbox Waste Study 2010.
ALUMINUM FOIL More than 20 million Hershey's kisses are wrapped with 133 square miles of foil every day.
ALUMINUM AND TIN CANS In the time it takes you to read this sentence, more than 50,000 12-oz. aluminum cans were made.
CHERRY PITS & BANANA PEELS Food debris in a landfill decompose only 25% in the first 15 years (how about composting instead?).
JUICE BOXES Most inorganic trash retains its weight, volume, and form for at least four decades.
PAPER BAGS AND NAPKINS It is estimated that 17 trees are cut down for every ton of non-recycled paper.
STYROFOAM Nationwide, U.S. citizens throw away 25 billion styrofoam cups every year.\
PLASTIC BOTTLES Nationwide, U.S. citizens discard 2-1/2 million plastic bottles every hour.