August 29 2011
Bye Bye Brown Bag
Apparently the good old-fashioned brown-bag lunch is an environmental disaster. The New York Times reports that schools with an "eco-friendly lunch policy" now dictate the container in which you can put your child's lunch.
Many retailers and schools are advocating waste-free options for back-to-school shoppers this year, especially when it comes to lunch. School lists call for Tupperware instead of Ziplocs, neoprene lunch bags instead of brown paper ones, and aluminum water bottles, not the throwaway plastic versions.
Since when did brown bags become earth's enemy? I thought that was the politically correct choice at the grocery store. It's getting harder to keep environmentalists' schizophrenic policies in order. The Times goes on to quote one (clearly bored) mother's ethical dilemma:
"Ziplocs are the biggest misstep," said Julie Corbett, a mother in Oakland, Calif., whose two girls attend a school with an eco-friendly lunch policy. In school years past, she said, many a morning came unhinged when the girls were sent to school with disposable sandwich bags.
"That's when the kids have meltdowns, because they don't want to be shamed at school," Ms. Corbett said. "It's a big deal."
Whittier College professor Judith Wagner's been biting her nails down to the quick as she struggles to find the answer to the knotty issue presented when a kid requests two sandwiches for lunch. You see, many eco-friendly containers don't accommodate this request:
"Parents will say things like, ‘Well, I want her to have a choice, and if I put in a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich and a ham sandwich, she has a choice,' " Professor Wagner said. "And each one comes in its own separate plastic bag."
What comes next, she said, is a hard call. "Do you go back to the parents and say, ‘Gosh, can you rethink the plastic bags and all this food?' Or do you talk to the children, and you make the children feel guilty because they're throwing this all away?"
The horror! Plastic bags or an eco-friendly container? Ham sandwiches or peanut-butter sandwiches? Eco-friendly or eco-destroying! Guilt or guilt-free?
Kidding aside, these eco-friendly lunch policies do little more than complicate a parent's job of feeding her children and create just another disincentive to parents' packing their kids' lunch. Add this new eco-issue to the many other disincentives - like breakfast, lunch, and dinner being offered to their children on the school lunch line - parents are often left asking "Why bother?" Not only are parents being told what to put in their children's lunches to satisfy the food nannies, they're now being told how to pack the meals to satisfy the environmentalists.
What's next? Wait, don't answer that!