My mission to reduce the waste in my school lunches

The school term has just recently finished and, so far, I’ve had a wonderful holiday full of swimming at Sydney’s sparkling beaches, spending time with friends and eating actual, warm food. See, at school, I bring a little packed lunch every day, usually consisting of a sandwich, a biscuit and some fruit, wrapped up in plastic wrap or tinfoil, what you’d expect, nothing like the lunches I can indulge in on holiday.

Over the last week of school, I tried using a beeswax wrap alternative to plastic packaging from the brand Apiwraps, and not only did I not produce any excess rubbish throughout the week, but my sandwiches were kept super fresh!

The impact of our school lunches on the planet

I’ve realised just how much rubbish is produced from school lunches, purely because of the way food items are packed. Considering I’m one of millions of school students in Australia, we probably contribute quite a lot to excess waste issues in the country.

Disposable lunch wrappers are a small contributor to pollution, however they are arguably one of the easiest to eliminate. I think that a few good alternatives to plastic wraps and aluminium foil are washable containers, glass jars, recyclable parchment paper as well as beeswax wraps.

My experience with reusable beeswax wraps for school lunches

The beeswax wraps I tried out were easy to use, efficient, and simple to wash and they kept my food fresh, it was also easier than having to fiddle with plastic wrap. I hardly felt like I was using a so-called ‘alternative’, and I didn’t think there was any lack of quality compared to the wrapping I had used previously.

Since the wraps are made of reusable cloth covered in beeswax, I was also reducing my rubbish and waste, hopefully aiding in saving a few turtles, or other creatures also affected by plastic ingestion. Thinking about how easy it was to use this alternative, I can imagine many other students utilising beeswax wraps instead of plastic in the future, and I’m sure that the movement will help many animals and their habitats to be rid of pollution.

The fact is that even if we dispose of our waste correctly, a lot of it still ends up in the ocean or in other habitats where it shouldn’t be, so the more we can reuse our packaging, the less our planet will be negatively impacted.

The problem with grocery shopping

The other, larger, issue with food packaging is the way people carry their groceries: primarily in plastic bags. Plastic bags usually end up in the ocean, eventually making their way to the stomachs of birds and fish and other animals. Despite the solution being so simple, many people do not buy or bring fabric bags to use because they aren’t nearly as easily accessible as their harmful alternative. When I think of my ideal future, part of it is a world where plastic bags aren’t as accessible as they are now, a world where people use simple fabric bags to store their groceries. I think that many may view that world as far off and unreasonable, but it could save up to 100,000 marine creatures every year from choking on or being poisoned by plastic.

However, there is some good news regarding the topic: two of the largest chain stores in the country (Woolworths and Coles) have begun introducing initiatives to ban plastic bags! I hope this whole process is proving that the plastic-bag-free world I – and many other people, young and old – look forward to seeing is beginning to become a reality.

Although, there are, of course, many other chain stores and small businesses where we should all bring our own reusable bags in order to cut down on all the extra waste that could be produced. I think it’s definitely worth it, and pretty simple, all anyone has to do is purchase a few reusable bags to do their shopping in, the difference that such a simple action makes could be revolutionary.

So to wrap it up, over the next few years I’d like to see food packaging moving in a more ecologically sustainable direction, with fabric bags instead of plastic for shopping becoming more normalised, and reusable packaging utilised in lunchboxes. I think that every young person who is coming into the world will appreciate being born into a place where there are still turtles, fish and seals happily swimming in the ocean, and far less litter on the streets. With the solution to so much pollution being so easy, I believe that we owe it to our planet to purchase a few easy alternatives to plastic packaging.

– Ava

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Ava Broinowski Thompson

Ava is a 15-year-old full of passion and deep care for our planet and the creatures on it. In her spare time, you'll find her enjoying Sydney's beaches, reading, writing, playing hockey, or engrossed in her love of all things art, from sketching to painting. She has dreams of travelling every corner of this beautiful world, seeing it's beauty, and getting to know other cultures.

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