Back in the 'olden' days people would cart around a steel lunch canister filled with a sandwich wrapped in a cloth napkin and some soup housed in a reusable metal cup. Then plastic became a huge part of everyday life and soon we were sending our kids off to school with a lunch box (or even worse: a disposable bag) filled with plastic baggies, juice boxes and everything else that just gets tossed away when the bell rings. And if that wasn't bad enough, it's also known that some lunchboxes and bags contain poisonous lead. Luckily, with a few small adjustments you can take your child's lunchbox from toxic and wasteful to safe and eco-friendly. 

The first step is the main container itself. Stay away from some plastic lunch boxes. But if your child insists that Dora must adorn her lunch box, learn how test it for lead at the Center for Environmental Health's website. If the box fails the lead test or you want to make sure everything is eco-friendly from the get go there are some great options available. has a huge assortment of lunch bags for kids (and adults too). The Laptop Lunches Bento Box is tested lead free and is produced using fair labor practices. It includes: five microwave safe containers that all fit inside an outer case, a water-resistant outer sleeve, stainless steel fork and spoon and a non-toxic ice pack.

For girls I love the Mimi the Sardine medium bag in the Flower Power print#. It's stylish, durable, machine washable and made with eco-friendly materials. What more can you ask for? And keep the lunch bag fun and safe at the same time with the adorable Built NY Munchler bags shaped like tigers, rabbits and other kid-friendly animals. Fleurville,  known for fashion-forward diaper bags, makes a great PVC and Teflon-free Lunch Pak. The silver and orange color combination is perfect for your boy who wants to look cool at the lunch table. Fleurville also has a new Kids Messenger bag that holds books and binders, has pockets for water bottles and comes with a removable lunch bag. It's also lead-free, PVC free and Teflon free.

Now that you've tackled the case, it's time to work on what you put inside. Instead of wasting hundreds of plastic baggies wrap a sandwich in a reusable Wrap-N-Mat. Make sure to leave out all of the 'throw away' products like tiny yogurts and juice boxes. Instead use a reusable, environmentally friendly container, stainless steel thermos or drink bottle. If you pack cloth napkins and real silverware you'll also save on making extra waste.

I'm lucky because my kids have a waste free lunch program at their Waldorf School . Help create one at your school to educate students and their parents. The Center For Ecoliteracy has tons of information on how to start a program at your school. Waste Free Lunches is another website for great information. According to them an average elementary school has 18,760 pounds of lunch waste every school year!  So it's up to you-and your kids-to save the planet. one lunch at a time.

To learn more about Waldorf Schools, please visit the “Association for Waldorf Schools in North America (AWSNA). ”:  I love the Waldorf approach.