Sunday, October 18, 2009

Low-waste lunches for Montessori students


REDLANDS - To cut down on food waste, students at Montessori in Redlands tote around the same lunch containers.

Laptop Lunches are five small plastic containers that fit into a plastic box, which snaps closed. The entire laptop-style box can be placed next to a water bottle and into an insulated cloth lunch bag that zips shut.

"It really is great on portion control," said Brandi Jennings, president of Parents and Teachers of Montessori. "They usually don't eat anything more than what's in the box."

All the pieces are included in the $40 price, but students get them free courtesy of Parents and Teachers of Montessori.

The boxes were purchased in the 2008-09 school year for all students and staff members. They order more during the summer so new students have them before they start school, Jennings said.

"It cuts down on waste a lot," she said. "In doing so you tend to pack a little more of a healthier lunch because you're not using pre-packaged items. That might not be your goal at first, but it just kind of turns up that way."

Jennings said her 11-year-old son has had his lunch box since he was 5 and it is still in good condition with all the pieces.

"They might seem to be expensive at first, but when you realize you don't have to buy a new lunch box every years, it works out just fine," she said.

Laptop Lunches helps reinforce the school's method of integrating environmental responsibility in their students' education, said head of school Maura Joyce. Classes compost for their garden and each room has recycling bins for paper and plastic.

"At a young age they're learning to have a profound respect to each person and environment," she said.

Student Ronnie Ravins, 5, said he likes to play with the box because it is shaped like a computer.

"I like that it has a lot of stuff that I need," he said.

Kate Harris, primary class assistant, said her class's trash level is minimal since students started using laptop lunches.

"The PTM is the driving force behind it and it really just encourages the whole school to do it," she said.

She used reusable containers for her own children's lunches, but now all four pack their own in the Laptop Lunches containers.

"I'm just so pleased to see literally through the week that everyone is using them," Harris said.

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