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  • 5 min read

    It might seem like ages away (particularly if you’re a child) but the summer holidays will soon be over and the new term will be upon us.

    For parents, this almost inevitably means having to shell out for a whole new range of things. Almost unbelievably, parents in the UK will, on average, spend just under£200 per child in preparation for the new term.  

                                          Going back to school costs, on average, £200 per child.

    Environmental impact of ‘back to school’

    As if the expense wasn’t enough all that buying of things also has an enormous environmental cost. This is particularly true when it comes to…

    Environmental impact of plastic lunchboxes

    Plastic lunchboxes are a major contributor to plastic pollution,  China alone produces over15 billion each year. What’s more most lunchboxes are made from polypropylene plastic. While polypropylene is recyclable, when it is heated it creates chemicals with anunknowntoxicity - leading to concerns over pollution and health.   

    Environmental impact of plastic food wrappers/containers

    Most children's’ lunchboxes contain several single use plastics. If the fact that they’re made from fossil fuels and have an enormous carbon footprint isn’t reason enough to refuse them; plastic pollution is now considered an environmental threat on par with climate change.  Children’s lunchboxes contain loads of them - whether in the form of prepackaged goods or the sandwich bags that you use to put their lunch in.

    In fact, if every child that takes a packed lunch to school throws away their wrapper/plastic sandwich bag it amounts to800 million wrappers each year. That’s just school children.

    Environmental impact of school supplies

    Lot’s of lists out there (such as this one fromGood Housekeeping or this one fromWHSmiths) recommend those plastic wallets for ring binders. While, if your child’s schoolinsiststhat they need something you probably best get it, there are other options.

    Let Elephant Box show you how to have plastic free back to school.


    Plastic free back to school tip one: Pack waste free lunches

    The majority of school children in the UK still take a packed lunch with them to school. Not only do these present nutritional issues (98% of packed lunches don’t meet nutritional standards), they also present environmental concerns.

    Avoid cling film/sandwich wrap

    Cling film or sandwich wrap which is used in most lunchboxes ends up in a landfill or the oceans,leaching chemicals into the ground or water and harming wildlife.

    Biodegradable cling film is becoming more common but it’s not an environmentally sustainable alternative. When, if, it breaks down it breaks down into little pieces which end up harming the environment.

    What’s the alternative?

    As an alternative to cling film/sandwich wrap why not useBeeswrap. It’s a washable and reusable alternative made with organic cotton, beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin. 

    The Elephant Box alternative?

    Elephant Box recommends our food-grade, stainless steel, square salad tins or square snack pots.

    Where can I learn more?

    Learn more about waste free lunches by visiting:http://wastefreelunches.org/  

    Plastic free back to school tip two: Avoid plastic lunchboxes

    Our second plastic free back to school tip is to leave the plastic lunchbox at home. Plastic pollution is now considered an equally as large environmental problem as climate change. Plastic lunchboxes are part of this problem,China alone produces 15 billion a year.

    What’s the alternative?

    Rather than plastic switch to food-grade stainless steel lunchboxes instead. Make sure that these are produced in a sustainable and ethical manner - just like Elephant Box products.

    The Elephant Box alternative

    Elephant Box recommends our large lunchbox. They are tough, durable and will last for years.It’s a lunchbox for a proper lunch with a capacity of 2 litres. It measures 220mm wide, 150mm long and 85mm deep.

    Where can I learn more?

    Learn more about us, our products and how they are made here

    Plastic free back to school tip three: avoid the plastic wallet

    Plastic wallets and ring binders are still part of the back-to-school shopping list, even in this digital age. But the negative impact of such plastic items, no matter how many times they’re used, is still substantial.

    What’s the alternative?  

    Decide if plastic wallets and ring binders are truly an essential part of your child’s back to school. If they are, then consider ditching the wallets and go for a cardboard ring binder. Look for those made of recycled cardboard instead.

    Where can I learn more?

    Have a look at companies such asGuided who sell ring binders made of recycled cardboard.  

    Plastic free back to school tip four: ditch the bottles

    School can be thirsty work. All that learning, playing sports and running about means a lot of water needs to be drunk, which can mean a lot of plastic. Plastic bottles are one of the major causes of plastic pollution - with over amillion being produced every minute.  

    What’s the alternative?

    Make sure your kids are taking a reusable water bottle with them when they head back to school. Not only will this reduce the impact on the planet but also on your wallet as you only need to buy the reusable water bottle once.

    Where can I learn more?

    There are hundreds of resources out there about the impact of plastic water bottle pollution but here are just a few to get you started.

    The Water Project

    Ban the Bottle

    One Green Planet

    The Elephant Box alternative?

    Our 750 ml food grade stainless steel water bottle is perfect for taking to school (and taking anywhere in fact). Because it is 100% stainless steel it gives you a fresh tasting drink every time. What’s more, 10p from every bottle purchased goes to Refill.org - a brilliant campaign by Citytosea.org.uk to make it easier for you to refill your bottles.

    Your Plastic Free Back to School

    Going plastic free is never going to be easy; plastic has penetrated into every aspect of our lives. But every little bit counts, it helps to remember the ‘Rs’  of sustainable living.

    1)Refuse - say no so to single use plastics, think about the choices that you are making and if you really need the products that you are buying.

    2)Reduce - think about if you still need the items that you are buying in the quantities that you are buying.

    3)Reinforce- protect and look after your things before they break. By properly looking after things you can make them last longer before you need to repair them.

    4)Repair- repair your things. It was good enough for our grandparents and it should be good enough for us. Try and repair everything, only throw it out when you absolutely have to.

    5)Reuse- only buy new things that can be reused and try to find a new purpose for the things that you already have.

    5)Recycle- recycle everything that you can and, going back to point one, refuse things that cannot be recycled.

    6)Redesign- we need to work together to push for everyday products to be redesigned to be reusable and recyclable; to move away from our disposable and throwaway culture.



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