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Avoiding the "Trashy Four" When Packing School Lunches

PHOTO: Some simple changes in packing a school lunch can prevent tons of trash from ending up in Tennessee landfills. Photo credit: www.anotherlunch.com/Flickr.
PHOTO: Some simple changes in packing a school lunch can prevent tons of trash from ending up in Tennessee landfills. Photo credit: www.anotherlunch.com/Flickr.
August 14, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Students across the state returning to school this month, forming friendships and making the team, but also generating a massive amount of trash. Over the next school year it's estimated the average student lunch will generate more than 60 pounds of garbage, says Leslie Holsapple, program and outreach manager with Metro Waste Authority.

Proper planning, according to Holsapple, can help greatly reduce waste.

"We urge parents and kids to especially avoid having lunch with the ’trashy four’ and that includes packing lunches with paper, plastic, Styrofoam and foil," Holsapple said.

Alternatives include using a lunch box with reusable food-and-drink containers or cutting down on the trash by going "old school" and using actual silverware or cloth napkins.

"Paper napkins and paper towels are not recyclable," said Holsapple. "We would urge people to use a cloth napkin. It can be washed and reused and kids will think it's kind of fun to have a lunch that's a little different than their friends. It might start a new trend."

Holsapple says each year, more than 34-million tons of paper towels and napkins wind up in landfills and enough Styrofoam cups and containers are thrown away to circle the earth more than 400 times.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TN