I’ll admit that the convenience of ready-to-go items has sometimes trumped our best intentions, with single-serve beverages (juice boxes and foil pouches) being our biggest downfall. And those items are even worse than many other pre-packaged products, because their containers are not usually recyclable (although Tetra Pak packages, produced by the world’s largest food-processing company, are widely recycled in Europe, few convenient options exist for reusing or recycling them in the U.S.).
As we prepared our household to transition back to the classroom, we decided to analyze the cost of this habit. Whereas a 64-ounce bottle of Trader Joe’s Apple Grape Juice costs $3.49 (5 cents per ounce) and comes in a recyclable plastic bottle, a package of eight 6-ounce boxes of the same juice costs $3.69 (8 cents per ounce). Ta-da! A lesson in economics as well. My great-grandfather, who often lectured on the per-unit cost vs. profit in a cup of coffee, would be proud.
So, as I scurried around doing Back-to-School shopping with my girls, we decided to invest in two new, fun reusable bottles, and to try to kick the juice-box habit. As you pack your first school lunches of the year, what small steps will you take towards reducing your lunch-time waste? There are many resources available to help you, your kids, and your school make different choices.
It’s surprising that, with the economy as tough as it is, more people haven’t embraced the thrifty ways of past generations – it’s good for the wallet, the waistline, and the planet. In other words, it’s common sense—or cents, as the case may be!
Sarene Marshall is managing director for The Nature Conservancy’s Global Climate Change Team.
Photo credit: Flickr user jodigreen via Creative Commons