Friday, July 30, 2010

Eco-Friendly Friday: Back-to-School Essentials and The Best Giveaway Yet!

Can you believe it's already that time of year again? In just a few short weeks, shiny yellow school buses will be cruising all around town. What's that mean for you as a parent? means these last few weeks of summer are going to be filled with back-to-school shopping! Supply lists are already coming out and retail stores are already displaying fall fashions. It's time to start stocking your kids up for the school year, and one place you need to start is so that you can get your kids back-to-school lunch essentials.

Did you know that the typical child generates 67 POUNDS of lunchtime waste per year? Now times that by the number of students in your child's class, or better yet, by the number of students in your child's school. That's a TON of waste that can easily be avoided by picking up 5 lunchtime reusables. That's it...just 5 reusable items can save all that trash and save you a ton of money in the long run (roughly $371 annually). Seems like a no-brainer right? Well here is how to get started...

1) Use a Reusable Lunch Bag

The great thing about reusable lunch bags is that there are SO many cute ones to chose from these days. Reusable lunch bags use to be all about function, but now they are about fashion too! Here are some of my favorites...

I love how these bags can hang from the back of a lunch chair while kids eat, instead of taking up space on the table. Such a smart idea.

You seriously can't go wrong with Neoprene when it comes to durability. It's machine washable, keeps food cold for hours and its easy to fold up and shove into a backpack when lunch is over. Plus...these designs are SUPER cute :-)

These traditional square lunch bags remind me of my school days...although these are way cuter than the New Kids on the Block one I carried :-) They have great colors and designs for girls and boys...

Okay...this is seriously the PERFECT lunch bag for the little fashionista in your life. It's cute enough to be a purse, but functional enough to use for lunch. I mean can you go wrong? KOKO makes several adorable options so be sure to check them all out here.

2) Use a Reusable Water Bottle

I have posted several times about all the great reusable water bottles that has to offer, but here are a few new ones that I think are perfect for school (or any time for that matter :-)...

If anything is going to keep your child's drink cold until lunch's a stainless steel bottle. The mouth on these is wide enough to fill with ice cubes, and it is super easy to clean if your kids want to refill it before heading home. I also love the adorable animal designs...I might order the beaver one for Eric :-)

Since I have become a huge fan of CAMELBAK, I just had to include one of their new kid-friendly bottles. These are the girlie designs, but they have ones for the boys too. I LOVE them!

3) Use Reusable Sandwich and Snack Bags

Obviously, disposable plastic sandwich and snack bags are one of the biggest culprits of lunchtime waste so even just replacing your child's snack bags will make a HUGE difference. I have always been a fan of LunchSkins, but here are a few new ones that I would like to try...

There's no confusing what's inside these bags! I love the colorful food pictures and the fact that they are made from organic cotton.

In case you didn't know, REUSEIT makes their own line of snack bags (and lunch bags, and shopping bags, etc.) and they are incredibly affordable in comparison to others out there. They are just as durable and fabulous and best of all...they are made in the USA!

4) Use Reusable Food Containers

I know a lot of people are big fans of Gladware and other "disposable reuseables" like that, but you have to remember that just because something says it is reusable...doesn't mean that it will last past a few uses. I have melted, stained, broken and cracked so many pieces of these cheap reusables in the past that I stopped buying them long before I realized how many other great options there are out there. These items may be more pricey, but when you think about how long you will use them, you will see that they are a much better value in the long run. Here are some of my new favorite food containers...

These are just too awesome to only be used for lunches! They are slim enough to fit in lunch bags, diaper bags and backpacks and my FAVORITE feature is that they are nestable, which means you can keep them organized in your cabinets! They are also BPA free and made of 100% recycled materials.

Okay...I have given this bad boy two test runs this month. I carted watermelon for Addison all the way to the zoo and when we got there, it was still cold! Score 1. I also carted warm oatmeal for Blake when we went out to breakfast and when we got there it was still warm!! Score 2! I never thought I would find so many uses for this jar but between snacks, babyfood, soups and chilies in the winter, etc...there are endless possibilities. I highly, HIGHLY recommend this for your kid's lunch bags (or your own :-)

These containers are the perfect size for your kids lunch bags. They are durable and leak-proof...two very important musts for kids. I also think they are great sizes for babyfood...especially if you make and store your own.

5) Use Reusable Utensils and Napkins

These are probably the two most neglected reusables when it comes to kids lunches, but they are just as important as the rest of the items on this list. Luckily, it's easy to find cute, kid-friendly utensils. My favorites are...

I've blogged about these before, but I just had to share them again because they are so perfect for kids lunches! The durability and convenient carry case make them a must-have. And speaking of items I have blogged about before...

I know that reuseable napkins are a dime a dozen, but these organic cotton napkins from Litter-Free lunch are awesome. I have used mine a lot and they still look brand new. LOVE them. see how easy that was? You only have to replace 5 items in your kid's lunchtime routine to save 67 pounds of waste and roughly $371 this school year!! You'd be stupid not to do it :-) help move you along in your quest for a waste-free is giving away a REUSEIT Lunch bag AND set of snack bags FOR FREE to one lucky reader!!! Here is on of my favorite new REUSEIT lunch bags...

Cute right? They have a bunch of adorable lunch bags and snack bags to chose from so be sure to check them all out. But first, make sure you enter. Here's what you have to do...

1) To enter this giveaway, you must visit's new site and tell us what you love best about it. This will earn you 1 entry.

2) Leave an additional comment and let us know that you became a Facebook Fan. You can access their Facebook page right from the homepage. This will earn you an additional entry.

3) Leave an additional comment and let us know that you became a Twitter Follower. You can assess their Twitter link right from the homepage. This will earn you an additional entry.

4) Leave an additional comment and let me know of any eco-friendly topics you would like to see on Eco-Friendly Fridays. This will earn you an additional entry.

The winner will be announced next Friday, August 6th. Good luck everyone and Happy Back-to-School!

* If you would like to check out's video on "5 Steps to a Waste-Free Lunch" you can check it out here*


  1. Would like to see any DIY products or uses that are out there. Esp. DIY lunch bags/snack bags.

  2. I like the inclusion of recent comments on the new site, maybe somebody already answered a question I was going to ask or has ther great tips to share!

  3. For eco-friendly fridays, I'd like to see something on either going without using shampoo [as I stopped in february of this year...I use a varying combination of baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice]...or perhaps something to do with composting tips. I've started doing so and never looked back...except to admire how much healthier my garden is :)

  4. I've been really questioning my ordering reusables and all-natural cleaning and personal products online recently. It does save the waste of disposables and toxic chemicals from being in my house or rinsing down my drain into streams, etc. However it comes in a cardboard box every time and fossil fuels were used to get that box to me. I love the stuff on and I'm already a facebook fan of theirs but I going to look more into making my own things. I agree with Anonymous that I would love to see more DIY projects for everything: cleaning, taking care of my skin and lugging around my lunch. Thanks.

  5. I like Natalie's Waste-Free Lunch Tips video!

    And boy, do I want those Graze Organic reusable bags. Cute!

  6. I just ordered some stuff from them last night! Their new website looks great, love how easy it is to browse the different tabs for shopping, learn, take action, etc.

  7. become a fan on facebook too!

  8. I LOVE everything about What a fabulous site. I especially like the videos (Natalie's a doll) that show different uses of their products. I'm already a Facebook fan...but sorry, I don't tweet!!!! :-( And for those asking for DIY products for lunch bags/snack bags - you can go to any sewing website online and there are alot of free patterns and tutorials on how to make your own bags. But as a sewer myself, you can't beat the price of the bags on By the time you buy the fabric, velcro, water resistent lining fabric, and thread, you spend just as much as what they cost already made for you!

  9. Renee-

    That's a good question. According to the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions, shipping 10 pounds of packages by overnight air -- the most energy-intensive delivery mode -- uses 40 percent less fuel than driving roundtrip to the mall. Ground shipping by truck uses just one-tenth of the energy of driving yourself.

    Think of it this way- shopping online is like carpooling, your package shares a ride with hundreds of other packages rather than hundreds of people driving to several different stores.

    All products, even the ones you find in your local store, come from a warehouse. When you shop online you cut out one trip the items you purchase have to make – rather than shipping from the manufacturer to the warehouse to the store they’re shipped straight from the warehouse to you.

    Not only do you reduce the amount of energy and resources used in transporting the items, but you also cut out the need to light, heat, cool and run a brick and mortar store.

    Packaging is obviously an unavoidable issue when shopping online, so we use 40-60% recycled cardboard boxes, and recycled & recyclable paper for protection rather than bubble wrap or packing peanuts.

    In addition, we donate 1% of our sales - not just our profits - to 1% for the Planet, which supports dozens of non-profits that are working to preserve our natural environment.

    And if anyone is still reading this long, long comment - I recently wrote a DIY section for our site. It's not complete, but I think you'll find some good stuff in there:

  10. Wow. I have been a HUUUUUGE help to the environment with all my online shopping! Thanks, Natalie. I feel better about it now. :)
    And I need one of those KOKO lunch bags. Badly!

  11. Natalie - AWESOME stats!!! I knew someone would be able to justify my online shopping! All kidding aside, your company is fantastic and you are the perfect fit at!!! Thank you for sharing such valuable information!! You're the best!!

  12. Love it! I love the Built lunch totes :)

  13. What a great giveaway! I have really been wanting to get some of these reusable snack and sandwich bags. The new Reuseit site is awesome! I love all of their tips, plus the fact that they have such a wide variety of reusable stuff! So neat. I could look at this stuff for hours!

    I am a Facebook fan and I follow them on Twitter. For future Eco-Friendly Fridays - what about pet products? As a dog owner, I'm always looking for some fun new eco-friendly products for my pup. I'd be really interested to see what's out there!

  14. I did not know the new things that can be used for lunches and that they are reusable!!! Thanks for the knowledge. I am a new college freshman and was just going to bu plastic baggies to carry snacks but now I know better.

  15. I like how they show staff favorites along with best sellers and new arrivals in an easy to find spot right on the homepage

  16. I became a reuseit fan on facebook

  17. I am now following reuseit on twitter

  18. I like the lunch bags and the sandwich bags. I guess i have to be thinking about it with back to school in one week!!!

  19. I'd like to hear about cleaning products. What do you think about the green clean? From what I understand they are not antibacterial and do not kill germs like the others. Grimy hands on tables at school. I want to kill all germs!!!

  20. Twiter follower.
    PS I haven't noticed you on Twitter in ABOUT A YEAR!!!

  21. okay this stuff is absolutely adorable!! I am such a dork and love this stuff. I love that the site is easy to access and use and that they have $5 shipping!! Plus they have all categories of reusable items! And you can shop different ways including new items, category or brand.

  22. Following on facebook

  23. Following on twitter :)

  24. I don't know what eco friendly topic I'd like to see. Hmm, you know what I wish? That I could really use vegetable oil in my car, am I the only one that thinks that? I don't know how hard it is and I am sure people would look at me like I was crazy but some people do it!

  25. Just going to leave one comment... sorry but phone blogging leaves much to be desired!

    The new website is more user friendly!!! I like the different sections, makes it easier!

    Liked em on FB!

    Following on Twitter!

    Not sure what you haven't covered yet... have you done much in the decorating aspect? Maybe fun natural fabrics for curtains, etc... more earth friendly paint? I dunno... seems up your ally!

  26. I had never before been to their website. I LOVE it! I love all the facts on there...the thing that popped out was the gaint number of plastic bags used! I actually took bags with me the other day to the store! wooohooo!


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