Tag Archives | litterless lunch

Earth Day Projects For Schools

Do you have a really cool idea that promotes environmental stewardship within a school but haven’t been able to get approval to implement it? This is usually a good time to pop your head into the principle’s office and ask “what’s happening at our school for Earth Day?” If they look at you momentarily stunned – you are in luck! Your awesome idea stands a good chance at getting passed because school administrators often needs help coming up with Earth Day projects. Here are 3 ideas that can be organized quickly and with little cost.

DIY Bike Racks & Bike Challenge

I will be trying this idea with my own family for Earth Day week. I was hoping to have the school’s support but I might be biking solo with my clan on April 22nd. I can only hope that my children understand the importance of celebrating Earth Day by challenging ourselves to try new things that reduce waste, fuel, or consumerism. Here is where the inspiration for this idea came from – picture credit Punyx Tumblr:

If your school already has bike racks this Earth Day project is already easy. If not, I love the idea of using up-cycled tires to make them and how much easier can it be to build a bike rack? Our school doesn’t have bike racks so I thought this project of building them teaches the importance of up-cycling materials already available. The other half of this project is to post a challenge sheet in each classroom and kids can record the number of miles or Kms that they walk or bike ride to school during Earth week (April 22-26). At the end of the week, classes or Grades can tally their totals for the number of carbon emissions or greenhouse gas emissions saved by the act of walking or biking instead of kids being driven to school. There are conversion calculators on the web that can transcribe these numbers. The school could post the total number and I think kids that don’t normally bike or walk to school would feel very proud!

Neighborhood Beautification

Working with your city’s environmental department is a great way to get ideas for helping the community on Earth Day. Does the school’s neighborhood have any invasive species or plants that kids can help the city identify and control? Is there a section of forest or river/stream close-by that can be swept for litter? And if it’s okay with the city – have kids make seed bombs in school and then throw into an approved area of the woods. David Suzuki’s Queen Of Green has a link on how to make DIY seed bombs. What could be better than unleashing children into nature with something to throw? They would love it!

Another way to beautiful your school’s neighborhood is to mark storm drains with fish decals to show they lead to waterways and should be protected from chemicals, paint, etc. We marked the storm drains along our street a few years ago – it was a great activity that my kids are still proud of! Again – getting the kids outside with an activity seems like a win/win. Many storm drain marking kits come with literature to hand out so they children become the educators with this project.

Earth Day Festival

This last project will take more time and energy to plan – but the results would be awesome. The key to keeping children engaged about learning how to help the environment is to let them speak to the issue. Kids know better than anyone little ways to help the environment. Not just for one day – little things that can be incorporated into our daily routine that just might inspire permanent change in our households.  One station of the Earth Day festival could have kids talking about how to pack a litterless lunch and why that is important. Maybe this idea could catch on and become a routine day of the week where students bring littler-ess lunch every Monday. Another station could be a game with a sorting station. There would be one large bin with 10 items that need to be sorted into compost, recycle or garbage. Fun! Another station could have a planting station where each child plants a seed into an empty egg carton cup or empty paper milk carton they’ve brought from home.  Having the children in charge of stations where learning is ‘hands-on’ has a larger impact than adults simply talking about it.

Good luck and be sure to post your experiences with Earth day projects within your school on our Fan Page – keep the inspiration flowing!

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Back-to-School Eco Backpacks

I love back-to-school reviews and this article might be my favorite because I’m reviewing Ecogear packs which offer two types of back-to-school bags: cotton or long lasting nylon. I have a personal opinion on each, based from the fact we’ve been using four different designs from the Ecogear line of backpacks; larger design with our son heading into Grade 5, smaller Ecogear backpack for son heading into Grade 3, and cotton Panda design for my daughters starting Grade 1.

The largest of the Ecogear nylon backpacks are great for a child that can handle a bigger pack that will grow from mid- elementary to high school years. My oldest son has been using this backpack since Grade 3 and it just might be our favorite! The padded shoulders offer comfort, great quality zippers (they always seem to be the first thing to break) and lots of different compartments to store books, lunches, and water bottle holders on the outside of the pack. This model can be found with My Little Green Shop and it’s called the Bighorn Backpack. As I mentioned we’ve been using this backpack for the school year and summer hikes for 2 years and it’s still in great shape. I also machine washed it in cold water, delicate cycle, hang to dry and it washed up without any problems. So it’s in great shape to continue back to school with my oldest and I love it when I get years of use from an item. I really question how the cheap backpacks stand up and if they last for years?

We received a smaller Ecogear backpack for my 2nd son to review and it fits him perfectly, but he’s got a smaller frame than his older brother. I would recommend this size pack from Kindergarten until late elementary school age. It’s still got the same outdoor look that I love and it’s called Mohave Tui by Ecogear. Although they are manufactured overseas, the design and materials used in these backpacks are earth friendly for a nylon design. They do not use flame retardants and most importantly in the backpack world, they do not use PVC. We all know that PVC plastic is like poison to human health and the environment but did you also know by purchasing products not made with PVC that you’re avoiding lead?  If your backpack does not clearly state PVC-free and you’re only paying a few dollars for a backpack that smells with that yucky plastic scent… the backpack might contain lead which is a terrible chemical to surround a child with. This backpack also has the classic outdoorsy appearance that is awesome for all children, but the comfort of the padded straps and multiple pockets to store permission forms, money for field trips, lunch system, water bottles (very important that they are located on the outside of the pack in case of spills), and just a great fit for a smaller child’s build we are very happy with this backpack.

And now the most exciting discovery and I have to say GREAT sourcing by our friends at My Little Green Shop!  They brought in the Ecogear line called Panda which are backpacks made from naturally grown (not organic but pesticide free) cotton for the smaller age group made with nothing more than cotton, wooden latch, and non-toxic dyes in colors that keep both parents and children happy. Best part of these backpacks for me is I can compost them at the end of their life. Do I think they’ll last as long as the nylon packs?  Maybe not, but for the age group and cost of these packs ($22.95) you just can’t go wrong. They are sassy, organic looking, kid-friendly, and I just love sending them to school without a Princess, Dora, or cutesy design that they’ll outgrow by middle primary. My twin daughters are entering Grade 1 and while I know this age group still likes the young commercialized designs but shopping this way limits the life span of items you purchase. If you can get years of use out of a backpack – why wouldn’t you purchase a classic design? Another design component I love is that the water bottle holders are on the outside of all of these backpacks. It only takes one accident with a child not closing their water bottle properly and having in leak inside their backpack for parents to realize this feature is golden! And for some strange reason it’s a commonly missed feature on young children’s backpacks.  Not to worry with this design and check out the below picture of my girls wearing their new packs!  We put a stainless steel bottle in each pack, stainless steel lunch system, and a few books inside for this picture. They should last at least 3 years until the big homework year of Grade 4 starts!

Anything new I bring into our lives I try so hard to think about the life cycle of where the product will end up. Finding the Panda series of backpacks is like breathing a big sigh of relief knowing that when this product reaches the end of it’s life because of rips, etc., I can cut it into strips and include it with compost. Thank you to My Little Green Shop for always sourcing with this in mind!

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Litterless Lunch ~ Back To School With PlanetBox

PlanetBox is this year’s solution for packing healthier and litterless lunches for the family. It’s wonderful that planning your child’s lunch to include food without packaging actually promotes creativity and healthier food selections. We’ve had a blast testing our PlanetBox and here are the results from a picky mama and kids that are equally hard to please having seen many eco-alternatives for lunch time alternatives over the years.

Do I love the PlanetBox? Yes and so do my children. We are all convinced there is some magic at work because all the PlanetBox compartments don’t require lids to contain the different food items. My biggest pet peeve with stainless steel containers is when they aren’t airtight and food leaks into my kids backpack or into other food causing it to becomes inedible (strawberry juice on a sandwich for example). My school aged children love strawberries and grapes so I put the PlanetBox to the test by putting strawberries, grapes, granola bar and a sandwich all inside – just quickly plunking them all in the compartments and closing the lid. They I shook the Planetbox, twisted it upside down to simulate the movement inside a backpack, then shook it some more. We were all tickled that the water from the grapes hadn’t touched the sandwich and the strawberry juice didn’t leak onto the bread or granola bar. Also, I put chocolate chips in the small center area to make sure they didn’t move around in the box because they are so small. Everything stayed put and there were no leaks! This test was my biggie with this product and I’m very happy with the results. Here are some photos.

PlanetBox food

PlanetBox and magnets

For anyone that packs a lunch to work or school and you haven’t invested in a re-usable lunch solution – now is the time. It naturally encourages healthier meals and you’ll feel great about eliminating plastic baggies, plastic wrap, and food that comes pre-packaged in more plastic! Another very smart detail of the PlanetBox is the magnets that are included to ‘decorate’ the outside. Will the magnets eventually get lost? Of course. But if you have a child that doesn’t appreciate being one of the few in their class to have a different looking lunch system with only the stainless steel outside – the fun designs and characters that come on the PlanetBox magnets help kids feel comfortable with their peers and their traditional lunch boxes. By the time the magnets disappear at the bottom of the backpack or locker – your child will no longer care their system is different. From my son’s reaction to how cool he they thought the PlanetBox magnets are – I know he would have loved this option when he first started bringing ‘adult looking’ stainless steel lunch systems to school years ago. It’s a brilliant and inexpensive addition to the PlanetBox with several fun designs that kids love. The magnets allow your child to show their personality and there’s a spot to write their name to personalize. Here is my the other set of magnets that my boys love – sports themed!

PlanetBox litterless lunch

Another great aspect to the PlanetBox are the containers that can be purchased with the system if you’ve got kids that love yogurt, messy salads, or dips for veggies, etc. These additions can be stored within the lunchbox to keep all the pieces together – a great picture from the PlanetBox site below displays how it all fits together. My younger son would love yogurt in his lunch so I can use this system with the Big Dipper container – perfect for messy main dishes he loves – rather than a sandwich that he never eats. If you’ve purchased the carry bag with the PlanetBox there is also room in the outside pocket for the Big Dipper (and a reusable water bottle!!) and on the inside liner you can fit an icepack to keep these food items chilled throughout the day.

What I’m finding with my different ages and personalities of my four kids is that everyone needs a lunch system tailored to the food they’ll eat. For my easy to predict older son that takes fruit, veggies and a sandwich every day and enjoys every bite – I would order only the PlanetBox basic for $34.95 and be completely happy. He loved both the planet and sports themed magnets and thinks his PlanetBox is great! My younger son that likes variety with his food and would prefer salad or yogurt to a sandwich – I would need the PlanetBox Plus with the Big and Small Dipper containers for $49.95. The complete PlanetBox set includes a carry case and it’s super quality and answers the problem of parents wanting to keep their child’s lunch on ice so food doesn’t spoil in a hot backpack – so this system at $59.95 would be ideal. I like the different price points and options available from the PlanetBox and am excited to review such a well thought out product for this year’s back to school.

I’ll be writing my back-to-school series starting in July this summer because it’s helpful to order supplies early rather than waiting until September for information. For parents wanting a complete system for lunches this year, PlanetBox would be a great investment. This lunchbox has mom approval and is also kid tested and approved!

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