September has arrived, the year begins to wane and the “s” word (school) is on everyone’s lips. With the new school year come meals to plan and supplies to buy, and it might seem a challenge to make those choices both vegan and environmentally responsible. But fret not! Below can be found five interesting and ethical alternatives to the same old options haunting your yearly school routine:
1) Easy Lunches: Perhaps the most practical place to start would be with fuel for the brain, and Jennifer McCann is certainly the one to go to. Author of the awesome Vegan Lunch Box blog, she has just released her second book, titled Vegan Lunch Box: 130 Amazing, Animal-Free Lunches Kids and Grown-ups Will Love! A cursory glance at the eats inside is cause for a taste bud riot. She covers all the bases, from grilled pepperoni sandwiches to quinoa amaranth timbales. She even discusses issues on being young and eating Vegan and offers pertinent suggestions, such as how to create healthy “look-alike” meals that won’t call too much attention to a more self-conscious child. Who of any age could say no?
2) Mmmm, Granola Bars: Ok, so the granola bar might be considered a lunch sub-category, but not really; granola bars are special. They make a fun and tasty addition to any lunch and can also serve as hearty, nutritious snacks throughout the day. The Swiss Army Knife of the food toolkit. Enter the Kitchen Sink Granola Bar, found on Kathy Patalsky’s Lunch Box Bunch site. Her vegan recipe is sensible and well-rounded but leaves room for personal improvisation. Most importantly, the bars are chock-full of fiber and protein, including steel cut oats, flax seed meal and various nuts and seeds. It’s also a baking-pan recipe, which means plenty of bars to go around. Try to make them last more than a day!
3) Hemp Backpacks: If in the market for a new, durable, vegan, and environmentally responsible book bag, look no further than the Large Hemp Backpack from Pangea’s Vegan Store. Perhaps the most widely-usable fibrous plant, hemp is easily sustainable and rugged, and Pangea guarantees these packs (and all the products they sell) to be both cruelty-free and produced by workers protected under unions or just labor laws. The bags have a simple, utilitarian style, come in three colors and are the perfect size for notebooks at 12″x14″. And at $54.95, they are comparable in price to the larger backpack manufacturers. What is there to dislike about them?
4) Reusable Lunch Bags: There are quite a few options out there for non-disposable lunch bags out there and you don’t have to sacrifice style. For instance the Bazura Bag, made out of recycled juice boxes in a woman’s co-op in the Philippines. Or check out the Mimi the Sardine Modern Cloth Bags with fun patterns such as flowers and cars but also made from organic cotton in the USA. Now that you have the bag, don’t forget to purchase re-usable sanwich and snack bags. There are many brands and cute styles to choose from including some made of recycled materials and oragnic cotton. Best of all, they eliminate the need to purchase daily-disposable plastic or paper lunch bags and are affordable in the event they are lost.
5) Recycled Cardboard Binders: Everything about Greenline Paper Company’s corrugated cardboard binders is just plain cool. Their simple, raw look and useful design speaks to studiousness and they are claimed to be more resistant to wear and tear than a traditional, toxic vinyl binder. Should the cardboard be damaged, the metal rings are easily removed and the cover can be recycled and replaced with a new one for less than the price of having to replace a vinyl equivalent. According to their site, Greenline prides itself on creating paper products that are recycled, tree-free, biodegradable, non-toxic, sustainable, or reusable; the binders are at least 35% post-consumer recycled. They are also socially responsible, as they are assembled at Northwest Center in Seattle, which provides vocational services to the disabled and disadvantaged through education, training and job opportunities. Come to school with the feeling of making a positive difference while introducing some funky style!