The site for resources on food and environment
The aim of this Tuckshop Toolbox section is to provide you with the information that is needed to make healthy and environmentally friendly food choices. Because our partners share high level expertise in nutrition, we are able to ensure that the information provided is both scientifically credible and nutritionally sound.
This information has been provided in partnership between the Queensland Association of School Tuckshops (QAST), Nutrition Promotion Unit (Metro South Health Service District, Queensland Health) and Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
Schools and Tuckshops
How to make your school green
There are many small tasks and activities that can be undertaken to help turn your school green and environmentally friendly. These range from recycling to composting and energy conservation.
We are constantly bombarded with ideas about how to reduce our carbon footprint. Recycling remains one of the easiest and simplest ways to do this.
Did you know?
- Plastic bottles and aluminium cans can take hundreds of years to decompose, while glass takes around one million years to decompose in landfill.
- Making aluminium from recycled aluminium cans takes 95% less energy than using raw materials.
- Every recycled soft drink bottle saves enough energy to run a television for an hour and a half.
One of the major threats to the environment is the amount of waste going to landfill. This is why it is so important to reuse and recycle, and it’s easy too!
Many schools and tuckshops are currently recycling paper and cardboard, but many may not have a bin for plastics, glass and cans. If your school doesn’t have a recycling bin, ask your Principal to apply for one. Most councils supply them to schools for free.
If you can’t get a recycling bin, you can still help the enviroment by reusing containers where possible. A great example of reusing is to pass containers used in the tuckshop on to teachers for use during arts and crafts e.g. egg cartons, boxes etc.
Did you know?
- A basket of popular items from the supermarket has travelled up to 70,000km before it gets to your plate? That’s three times around Australia’s coastline.
‘Food miles’ describes the distance that food has travelled from the paddock to the plate. It provides an indication of the environmental impact of the food we eat by considering the enviromental cost of the transport.
Schools that think about food miles when designing their tuckshop menu, or catering for a school function can really make a difference to their carbon footprint.
As a general rule, to reduce food miles in your school, try to make foods from fresh ingredients. For packaged foods, choose those that have been grown, produced and manufactured locally or a least in Australia.
Buying produce in season means that the food will not travel as far to your school, and it will be of higher quality as it has not been in storage for months.
Local farmers markets can be a great place to get local, seasonal foods. You could also use fruit, vegetables or even fresh herbs grown in your own school garden (if you have one).
Did you know?
- Australia is the second highest producer of waste per capita after the United States, sending 18 million tonnes to landfill per annum. This is equivalent to one tonne for every person.
- Composting or recycling food and garden waste can reduce an individual’s waste by 50%, which can mean a reduction in landfill of around 560kg each year per person.
Some ideas to reduce waste in your school:
- Reduce packaging going to landfill by choosing items where the packaging can be recycled e.g. paper, cardboard or cornstarch based containers instead of plastic ones.
- Don’t purchase more than you need.
- Print tuckshop or school event menus on recycled or scrap paper or put it online and email it to parents. Use a specials whiteboard to prevent having to print specials each day in the tuckshop.
- Buy in bulk if your school has the facilities to store food.
- Use a big sauce bottle at events or the tuckshop instead of individually portioned packages.
- Send food scraps to compost, worm farm or even chooks. Some schools already have these or you can give them to a local community garden or a family in the school community.
- Reuse leftovers in the tuckshop. e.g. include leftover tomatoes and vegetables to make pasta sauce, other leftovers as potential pizza toppings.
Reducing power and water use
We are constantly hearing about saving water by having short showers, and conserving energy by turning off lights at home, but what does this mean for your school?
You can make a difference to your school’s food related carbon footprint by reducing power and waste, and here’s how:
- Turn electrical appliances off e.g. ovens when not in use, lights, fridges and freezers over the school holidays. It is important to turn these off at the power source. Make sure seals on fridges are regularly checked and replaced if not in good condition.
- Reduce water use by turning off taps, fixing dripping taps, installing energy efficient appliances.
- Rinse vegetables in a half filled sink rather than under running water.
- Use cross ventilation if windows have screens, to avoid appliances such as fridges over working or over heating.
- Check energy ratings for any new appliances – go for 6 stars!
- Try to streamline your workflow in the tuckshop. Could you time it so that a product can go straight from the oven into a bag rather than a mid-way stop in a pie warmer?
Is your school tuckshop eco-friendly?
If your tuckshop is catering for an eco-friendly school event, Catering for the Environment will assist you to hold a fantastic green event.