My school-lunchbox days coincided with the birth of the juice box, but my mother always sent me to school with a Thermos full of Tang instead of the cool, new Capri Sun pouches that other kids had and that I longed for.
So I always assumed the thermos had to be the more frugal option. One would guess that it's a greener choice, too. And I love it when frugality and eco-friendliness mingle, especially these days.
So I decided to take a good, hard look at the juice boxes that are still coveted by the under-10 set.
When it comes to the box itself, Tetra briks are, overall, a relatively eco-friendly type of packaging, as I mentioned last fall in a column about wine. Treehugger points out that these brick-shaped containers require less energy to make and take up less space as waste than similarly-sized glass or plastic bottles.
They're also lighter than glass, shaped for space-efficient packing and have the best ratio of packaging to liquid, all of which make them less energy-intensive to ship than bottles.
Still, the folks at Grist recommend choosing one big plastic bottle over a lot of little boxes, and I have to agree.
Whether you shop at your local supermarket or in bulk at Costco (Stock Quote: COST), there's a lot more packaging in a bunch of single-serving containers, especially when you consider the plastic or cardboard that your 6- or 10- or 20-pack comes wrapped in.
Guess Mom knew best after all, as usual.
Additionally, only 24 states have communities that recycle juice boxes -- check with the Aseptic Packaging Council to see if yours does. And even if you can recycle the boxes at home, the chances are small that your kid's school recycles them.