It’s the lunchbox that's ticking boxes for both parents and kids – colourful, leak-proof, airtight, flexible compartments, cost-effective and an easy lunch-packing solution that reduces our waste and impact on the environment. Now, the Kindergarten students at Mary Immaculate, Eagle Vale are all proud owners of these special ‘rubbish-free lunchboxes’, thanks to a CEDoW Environmental Education Grant.
Over 80 new rubbish-free lunchboxes have been gifted to the Kindergarten students by their Year 6 buddies, helping promote the idea of bringing waste-free food or ‘nude food’ to school. The goal: to reduce the amount of rubbish produced individually and by the school as a whole.
The decision to use the CEDoW environmental grant on this purchase was made by the Mary Immaculate Ecology Committee – a team of eight Year 6 students and six staff members responsible for leading the school’s environmental action.
Eagle Vale’s Wollongong Environmental Network (WEN) School Contact, Kylie Boss, said the committee had identified rubbish on the playground as an ongoing issue at Mary Immaculate, and the students were particularly keen to focus their efforts on reducing the amount of waste in their school environment.
“Reduction of rubbish is a very important environmental issue that we as a school want to tackle. Our teachers already spend time in class discussing the amount of rubbish that ends up in landfill, waterways and the ocean with various teaching and learning activities; and as a school community, we participate in environmental days like Clean Up Australia Day. So these lunchboxes will add to our work and building awareness in this space.”
“We hope that this focus on rubbish reduction, starting with giving our youngest students these rubbish-free lunchboxes, will lead to an overall decrease in waste. As the students progress through primary school, the idea is they’ll take this message – and their new lunchboxes – with them, helping educate others in the school, too” — Kylie Boss, WEN Contact, Mary Immaculate
Dubbed ‘the ultimate food transport system that eliminates the need for packaging and wrapping’, these new Nude Food Movers lunchboxes contain three separate storage compartments, removable snack pods and dividers, and a handy sandwich ‘seatbelt’ – all to ensure any lunch and snacks remain secure and fresh.
While many of the school’s Kindergarten parents are already embracing environmentally-friendly lunches, it can require additional time and planning. These lunchboxes allow for simpler, easier lunch-making, and more healthy eating and rubbish-free living. The lunchboxes are also made from BPA-free plastic and its dividers offer flexibility for storing a variety of meals and snacks.
"These lunchboxes can help parents and carers more easily make sustainable choices. They can save money while assisting with nutritious, healthy food options, and help teach kids about the need to ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’. The lunchboxes will also allow for easier participation in our ‘Waste Free Wednesdays’ and help us reduce our playground litter" — Kylie Boss, WEN Contact, Mary Immaculate
Mrs Boss said the lunchbox presents were greatly received by the Kindergarten children, with lots of smiles, laughs and hugs for their Year 6 buddies.
What the students said:
“I’m happy that I gave my buddy the nude food lunchbox. He really likes it and it’s environmentally-friendly. It has lots of containers to put food in to reduce the amount of rubbish” – Isaak, Year 6.
“My Kinder buddy was really happy to see me and to get the lunchbox. She is really excited to start using it!” – Giselle, Year 6.
“I really like the small containers in my rubbish-free lunchbox because they are my favourite colour!” – Matthew, Kindergarten.
“I’m very excited to use my lunchbox. I want to put my favourite snacks in there!” – Jaxson, Kindergarten.
The Year 6 students each accompanied their gift with a letter addressed to their Kindergarten buddy, explaining why they had received the lunchboxes and encouraging them to be a part of the school’s nude food efforts by using it every day. [See a sample of the letter at the end of this article.]
They also made their buddies gift tags from recycled or reused material to reinforce the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ theme of the occasion.
“It was great to see the environmentally-friendly gift tags that the Year 6 students made for their Kindy buddies. They took the brief very seriously when making them and used a variety of items to recycle and repurpose into the tags,” Mrs Boss said.
“The enthusiasm from the Year 6 group really showed when they spent time with their buddies, explaining what the lunchbox was for, reading their letters to them and helping them unpack their presents.”
“Our Kindergarten students were equally as excited as Year 6 as they went about repacking their school food into their new lunchboxes. I hope the enthusiasm from all students involved continues on through the school year, and that other students will now also think about how they bring their food to school” – Kylie Boss, WEN Contact, Mary Immaculate
“We look forward to seeing the lunchboxes being used throughout the students’ time here at Mary Immaculate, and as they continue through school we hope they’ll become role models for our new, incoming students, too.”
The increase in use of these rubbish-free lunchboxes complements Mary Immaculate’s other ongoing work to reduce waste and help the environment, including:
- fortnightly school-wide 'Waste Free Wednesdays' where all students bring nude food for recess and lunch;
- the composting of students’ ‘crunch and sip’ fruit and vegetable scraps;
- participation in the Vinnies Return and Earn Container Deposit Scheme; and
- participation in environmental awareness days, such as Clean Up Australia Day where students conducted a clean up of the school grounds.
Year 6 students' letter to their Kinder buddies...
Congratulations Mary Immaculate! Keep up the great work in reducing waste and responding to Pope Francis’ call to ‘care for our common home’.