Zero Waste Lunch, School and Work

Zero Waste Schools

The Zero Waste Schools program is a collaboration between multiple agencies that expands throughout the Monterey Peninsula. This program is an innovative and collaborative program which assists Monterey Peninsula schools in institutionalizing on campus recycling, composting and reducing / reusing programs while instilling in students and school staff a sense of environmental stewardship.

A comprehensive school recycling program has been launched throughout the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District thanks to a vast collaborative effort between multiple agencies including the City of Monterey, The Monterey Regional Waste Management District, Waste Management Monterey City Disposal Service and MPUSD.

Working closely with MPUSD staff, this recycling and waste reduction program was developed to be consistent throughout the district and to involve all staff and students for a sustainable joint effort. Implemented as a three phase waste reduction program, this project will target classrooms and administrative areas, exterior spaces and cafeterias, addressing food waste in the final phase. The ultimate goal of this project includes a minimum of 20% reduction in waste, resulting in a potential savings of thousands of dollars to the school district.

Project staff has worked diligently during the 2010-2011 school year to implement Phase 1 of this program, which included the installation of recycling containers throughout campus facilities, providing education and assistance to thousands of MPUSD staff and students via assemblies, presentations, and tours.

This program is an important addition to the education and environmental programs at the Monterey Bay area schools, as it supports environmental stewardship at home and schools, as well as compliments existing recycling programs available throughout the region. Now it is possible to recycle at home, at school, at work and at play. This comprehensive school waste reduction effort has been made possible through the funding and support of the partner organizations.

Zero Waste Lunch

zerolu1Bringing lunch with you to school or work is a great way to eat better and save money. While there are many benefits to packing your own lunch there is one major environmental concern: single use disposable packaging generates significant amounts of waste!

Regardless of whether it’s basic peanut butter and jelly or something more elaborate on the menu, every lunch is eligible to be a Zero Waste Lunch!

What does "Build a Zero Waste Lunch" Mean?

Simply put, to make a lunch that generates no (or very little) trash. In a zero waste lunch everything can be eaten, reused, or recycled.  Here are some tips to help get you started:
  • Use a reusable insulated bag or lunch box instead of a brown paper bag, to hold your child’s lunch every day. A reusable ice pack can be used to keep perishable food items cold.
  • Use reusable plastic containers that can be washed and used over and over instead of using disposable plastic sandwich bags for sandwiches and snacks.
  • Use a thermos or reusable jug instead of a bottle of soda or a juice box.
  • Use metal silverware or wash plastic utensils and reuse them instead of plastic utensils that are used once and thrown away.
  • Buy in bulk and pack individual servings in reusable containers.
  • Use cloth napkins that can be washed and reused instead of using paper napkins or paper towels.

Why is it So Important and What Can I Do To Help?

Taking the time to pack healthy lunches without disposable packaging addresses concerns about the environment and childhood nutrition, and it's easier on your wallet. For example, yogurt in single-serving containers requires a third more packaging than one large container—not only do you pay for the extra packaging, but it adds up to extra waste.

What Can Schools do To Reduce Lunch Waste?

Start local! Start a waste-free lunch program at your school. Many schools across the country have begun to do so, and they're truly making a difference!

Talk to students, parents, and teachers about the benefits of packing a waste-free lunch. Post signs in the lunch area and send informative notices home to families. Get students, parents, teachers, and administrators involved. If possible, schedule a field trip to the landfill or recycling facility so students will understand where their trash goes.

Perform a trash audit to find out what's in your trash. Is your trash made up of mostly food waste or packaging waste? Does it contain compostables or recyclables? If so, how can these be diverted? Is the bulk of the trash coming from home or from the school lunch program? What changes will help reduce the amount of waste headed for the landfill?

Start a waste-free lunch program at your school:
723.60 - 477.00 = $246.60 SAVINGS PER SCHOOL YEAR PER PERSON
Cost Comparison
What does it cost to pack a waste-free lunch?

A disposable lunch A waste-free lunch
disposable lunch waste-free lunch    
1 egg salad sandwich $1.25 1 egg salad sandwich $1.25
1 yogurt .85 1 serving of yogurt .50
1 granola bar .45 1 serving of granola .35
1 apple .30 1 apple .30
1 package of carrots and dip .65 1 serving of carrots and dip .25
3 plastic bags .12 water 0
1 juice pouch .35 cloth napkin 0
1 plastic spoon .04 stainless steel spoon 0
1 paper napkin .01 packaging 0
TOTAL $4.02 TOTAL $2.65
$4.02 / day $2.65 / day    
$20.10 / week $13.25 / week    
$723.60 / school year $477.00 / school year    
723.60 - 477.00 = $246.60 SAVINGS PER SCHOOL YEAR PER PERSON

Zero Waste at Work

In the Office
Reduce Paper Use
  • Use both sides of the page. Draft reports can be printed on the back of paper that has been used once. Set aside such paper for printers and copy machines.
  • Make double-sided photocopies. Reports can be copied on both sides of the page. Set printers and copiers to default to double sided copies.
  • Print only the number of copies necessary. Limit the distribution of correspondence and reports to only those who really need hard copies.
  • Route one hard copy to several readers.
  • Use email or bulletin boards for sending and receiving information.
  • Accept papers with minor handwritten corrections for internal documents.

Reduce Packaging and Shipping Materials

  • Eliminate unnecessary layers of packaging.
  • Ask suppliers to take back pallets or switch to more durable pallets that can be re–used.
  • Investigate other reusable packaging, such as boxes.
  • Re–use received boxes and packaging for outgoing shipments.
  • Shred or crumple waste paper for use as packing material.

Use Less and Re-Use More

  • Use or manufacture minimal or reusable packaging. For example: re–use packing material, use less packaging, and ship merchandise in returnable/reusable containers.
  • Use and maintain durable equipment and supplies. High quality, long–lasting supplies and equipment that can be repaired easily mean fewer discards. Durable items stay out of the waste stream longer, offsetting higher initial costs.
  • Re–use products and supplies. Use durable, reusable products rather than single–use materials. A one–time investment for reusable items ends the frequently expensive cycle of discarding and reordering.
  • Use supplies and materials more efficiently. Change company policies and operations to increase efficiency, reduce waste, and conserve materials. Set up a re–use area where employees can take unneeded supplies rather than throwing them away and encourage staff to "shop" there.
  • Exchange, sell, or give away unneeded goods for re–use. Donate excess food, used furniture, and other materials to local organizations such as homeless shelters or charities.
  • Reduce unwanted or multiple copy mail. Get off unwanted mailing lists, and share subscriptions to professional magazines. No more junk mail.
Blue to Blue Recycling Program
Are you a hospitality based business within The City of Monterey? Do you like to save money?
The Goal: Targeting tourism-based businesses to take some of our biggest trash generators and turn them into our biggest recycling generators. We also want to make recycling a natural thing to do; when you see blue bins you know they’re for recycling, and not trash.
The following are the types of containers that are typically offered through this program:

96 Gallon Exterior Recycling
23 Gallon Slim Jim
14 Gallon Recycling Box
7 Gallon Desk side Bin

This is a free program available to all tourist based businesses and venues.
Want more information? Want to sign up? Contact us! the Sustainability office at (831) 235-5415