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Waste-free Lunch Basics

Welcome to wastefreelunches.org

Getting Started

Click on a link to the left to get started.

Defining the Scope of the Program

We held our first meeting in early March 2002. At that time we set a short term goal of putting together a week-long waste-free lunch program to coincide with Earth Week (April 22-26). Our long term goal was to implement a full-fledged waste-free lunch program to begin in September 2002. For Earth Week our major area of focus would be on lunches brought from home. We would use the summer months to research hot lunch alternatives, and our hope for September was to focus our attention on reducing waste resulting not only from lunches brought from home, but also from the hot lunch program.

If you're planning to implement a waste-free lunch program, you will need to determine the scope of your program based on:

  • the size of the school
  • the the number of people on your committee
  • your perceived level of community support
  • the amount of time and energy you have

The Components of a Waste-free Lunch Program

Since we were starting out with a relatively small committee of about 8 people, and we had never tried this sort of thing before, we were cautious about taking on more than we could handle. Looking back on it now, however, we're amazed at how much we were able to accomplish in such a short period of time. This is what we did.

  • Communicated with parents about what to do and what to expect
  • Communicated with teachers and elicited their ideas for making it work
  • Conducted three trash audits, one the week before Earth Week, one at the end of Earth Week (April 25), and one in late May.
  • Created an interactive Earth Week/Waste-free Lunch lobby display
  • Scheduled and facilitated lunch-time activities for improving student awareness

(tree planting, music, recycled art, trash audits, group interviews)

Tips for Parents

The success of a waste-free lunch program depends primarily on the ability to communicate with parents. Although the main goal is to educate the students about the need to reduce waste, parents are the ones who often buy the food and pack the lunches. If the transition is easy for parents, then they are more likely to give waste-free lunches a try and, hopefully, make the change a permanent one.

If you're looking for tips for parents, click HERE.

For a sample parent letter, click HERE.

Other Resources

Martin McKenzie, Project Officer at Resource New South Wales, Australia (www.resource.nsw.gov.au.) has two flyers that his organization has put together.

The first is a letter to parents/guardians introducing the concept of a low-waste lunch and asking for their support. (To download the flyer in pdf format, click HERE.)

The second is a flyer comparing Resource Friendly Renee's lunch with Waste Creator Wayne's lunch. Notice how much more nutritous Renee's lunch is too. To download that flyer in pdf format, click HERE.)