5 Steps To A Zero-Waste Lunchbox

October 03, 2019

Making school lunches can be a repetitive household task, and with an average of 2340 lunches to make from Prep to Year 12, it’s no wonder we reach for pre-packaged foods to speed up the process. 

Pre-packaged snacks like muesli bars, yoghurt pouches, chips and cheese slices can be easier to grab from the fridge-but what about the waste it’s producing?

Research shows the average school lunchbox generates three pieces of rubbish per day, which equates to a monstrous 30kg of waste per child per year. That’s 15 tonnes – yes 15 TONNES of plastic waste produced by a school of just 500 students per year from lunchboxes alone (1). You’re beginning to see the problem now, right? 

Cling wrap, popper boxes, plastic bags, single-use plastic water bottles, and pre-packaged snack food wrappers all contribute to a mountain of unnecessary waste. In addition to this, as little as 7% of the plastic waste produced in Australia is recycled, with the rest ending up in landfills or polluting our waterways.

Packing a zero-waste lunchbox is not only better for the planet, but it can also be healthier and cheaper too.  With the school holidays coming to an end and a new term looming, here are our top 5 tips and benefits to a zero-waste lunchbox.

1. Bake It Off

Schedule a lunchbox bake-off once or twice a month and get the kids involved with what they do and don’t like. You can bake an array of lunchbox foods that your kids love and freeze them. This way you have a range of great-tasting, healthy snacks on hand that are just as easy to add to the lunchbox as any store-bought packaged items. 

Because the snacks are home-made, it also means that they’re likely to be healthier, lower in preservatives and additives, and better on the hip pocket too. We have listed some of our favourite freezer friendly lunchbox recipes at the bottom of the page to help get you started.

2. Get your Bento On

Bento boxes are a great start to removing single-use plastics from your child’s lunchbox, as they have 4-6 dedicated food compartments to keep food separated. Many Bento boxes are also leak-proof, so the yoghurt in 1 compartment won't leak into the sandwich in the other. There are a wide range of Bento lunchboxes available both online and instore that offer interchangeable compartment trays, so you can change the number of internal compartments based on what’s on the menu.

3. Pre-pack simple snacks 

You would be amazed how quick and easy it can be to spend just 15 minutes a week pre-cutting vegetables, fruits or simply making a big batch of popcorn and boiling a few eggs. By pre-making lunchbox snacks in bulk and storing them in an airtight container in the fridge or cupboard, you're eliminating the need to purchase all that extra plastic. Don’t be afraid to use your leftovers as well. We have listed some of our favourite easy pre-packed snack ideas at the bottom of the page to help get you started.

4. Use Reusable Wraps, Pouches and Bags 

There is such a wide range of reusable wraps, pouches, and bags available both in-store and online these days that are such a great way to reducing the amount of cling wrap and plastic zip bags that go to waste.  By swapping plastic cling wrap for beeswax wraps or simple reusable fabric pouches you can dramatically reduce your plastic waste and it can reduce your grocery bill too.

5. Swap disposable water bottles for reusable stainless steel (BPA free) bottles

Don’t forget your zero-waste water bottle! Stainless Steel is proving to be the healthiest and most durable option with many types of plastic bottles containing PET or BPA. In addition to this, the Aluminium Steel look-alike bottles can typically be lined with plastic as the aluminium can be absorbed into the water over time. Water3 Stainless Steel bottles are high quality, 304-grade Stainless Steel, double-walled and insulated and can keep water cold for up to 12 hours which makes it ideal for those hot summer days. Each bottle comes with $5 refill credit (once registered) which means they can access fresh, natural spring water from over 220 Water3 refill kiosks throughout SEQ.

Don’t have a bottle?  That’s ok, we also offer a stylish range of coloured Stainless-Steel drink bottles available for purchase online, or our sleek Stainless Steel designs direct from our Water3 Refill Kiosks. Each bottle comes with 5 refill credits and credit can be easily topped up online or at the kiosk, so you can be sure you’ll never run out of fresh, great-tasting spring water.

Reuse and refill today and reduce your single-use plastic impact whilst still enjoying the benefits of drinking natural spring water. See our website for more information and to locate a kiosk near you at


Freezer Friendly waste-free lunch box ideas 

Below are just some ideas to explore. You’ll find loads more by searching online or on Pinterest. 

  • Cupcakes or muffins
  • Zucchini Slice
  • Protein balls (search Google for nut-free recipes if your school is nut-free)
  • Biscuits (homemade or store-bought)
  • Mini quiches or frittatas
  • Pancakes or pikelets
  • Vegemite and cheese scrolls


Easy waste-free lunch box ideas 

  • Popcorn
  • Fruit (grapes, berries, chopped apple, mango, whatever is in season)
  • Veggie sticks with hummus or homemade dip
  • Crackers with guacamole or cheese and tomato
  • Cheese cubes
  • Sandwiches or wraps
  • Homemade Sushi
  • Scrolls of ham
  • Dried fruit
  • Chocolate covered strawberries
  • Boiled eggs


At Water3 we are dedicated to reducing the impact of single-use plastic and saving our planet 1 bottle (or lunchbox) at a time.  By using these 5 tips you too can reduce your impact and help to save our environment. Happy Packing!

(1) Queensland Government, Litter Free Lunches