Image credit: Back to Nature
Waste is certainly a silly thing - and one that doesn't sit well with the concept of living green. So the idea of an easy, complete kit for waste free school lunches is appealing. Including a stainless steel drink bottle, 2 stainless steel containers with leak proof plastic lids, 1 Food Kozy™ (reusable bag for sandwiches, cheese etc..), 1 cotton napkin, 1 recycled aluminium tag, the new reusable school lunch kit from UK-based Back to Nature seems like a great way to teach kids to reuse. But I do have a niggling worry about how many reusable utensils each of us needs.Now don't get me wrong - this is NOT a criticism of the Back to Nature school kit, which looks like an attractive, well designed solution for cutting down on school lunch waste - the kit is also free of BPAs and other toxins associated with plastic containers, by the way.
It does, however, worry me that TreeHugger seems to receive more press releases about reusable bottles and bags than almost anything else. We've already looked at which reusable bag is greenest, and covered BPA-free water bottles from Bilt and Kleen Kanteen, but as these items become more popular and ubiquitous - there is a danger that they also become more susceptible to fashion - and hence more disposable.
Lloyd and Jaymi have already been driven to ask whether reusable bags are becoming a blight. (British eco-thinker George Monbiot even argues that the whole plastic bag debate is a distraction anyway.) I know in my own household we have a number of different reuseable bottles and food containers - many of which seem to have been freebies from green organizations (including TreeHugger ally Planet Green!).
So let me repeat - I am not attacking Back to Nature - which seems to have put together a well thought out kit for providing waste free school lunches. I'm just hoping that folks will buy these and use them for years to come - rather than looking for the next big eco-statement when school rolls around next year. Given the fashion consciousness of kiddies, it may be worth exploring something like SIGG Skins, where the kit could be adapted to changing tastes. Imagine a Bob the Builder theme eventually morphing into Marilyn Manson, or whoever the latest symbol of rebellion is, by the time the kid reaches teenagerdom.
Of course it should also be noted that a kit like this should last for years too - so even if a child outgrows the styling, it can be passed on to a younger generation. Maybe schools could have an exchange for such items to keep them in use? Just thinking out loud here.