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April 2004

Laptop Lunch Times: April 2004

April 2004

April 22nd is Earth Day!

Earth Day is just around the corner, and many communities are planning Earth Day celebrations. Visit to find a celebration near you.

Also, if you have a waste-free lunch story you'd like to share, please send it to [email protected]. To see the success stories that have been submitted so far, visit


In this issue, you'll find:

  • Simple Spring Side Dishes
  • Creative Earth Day Activities
  • Laptop Lunches in the News
  • Earth Day Specials
  • Featured Web site:
  • What works...Success Stories

Simple Spring Side Dishes

#1: Asparagus Vinaigrette

1. Steam asparagus spears until tender but not mushy.
2. Prepare dijon vinaigrette dressing:

  • Mix 2 tsp Dijon-style mustard with 3 tbs balsamic vinegar, and stir well.
  • Add 2 tbs olive oil and stir again.
  • Add 1 tbs water and mix until smooth.

3. Pour dressing over asparagus and serve hot or cold.
4. Garnish with hulled sunflower seeds or sliced fresh red bell pepper.

#2: Tangy Yams

Makes about 4 servings.

1. Cut a large yam into 3/4-inch cubes.
2. Cut 1 medium onion into medium-size pieces.

3. Mince 2 garlic cloves.
4. Heat 1 tbs olive oil in a large fry pan and add the minced garlic. Heat until pungent.
5. Add chopped onions and cubed yams, and saute until tender.
6. Season with garam masala (available in the spice aisle) to taste.
7. Sprinkle with 2 tbs orange juice.

#3: Simple Caeser Salad

Makes 4 large servings.

1. Place the following dressing ingredients in a large salad bowl:

  • 1 large clove garlic, pressed
  • 1 tbs worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

2. Stir dressing well.
3. Add 20 romaine lettuce leaves, torn into bite-size pieces and toss.
4. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup shredded parmesan or romano cheese.
5. Toast 1 slice of whole wheat bread, cut it into cubes for croutons, and sprinkle on top of the salad. (optional)

Creative Earth Day Activities

Here are some ways to celebrate Earth Day this year...and don't forget...make every day Earth Day!

  • Plant a tree. Visit for details.
  • Pack a waste-free lunch. See for ideas.
  • Eliminate disposable "doggie bag containers" by taking your Laptop Lunch or other reusable container to restaurants.
  • Take your own bags to the store when you go shopping. When you're asked whether you'd like paper or plastic, the answer--"neither"-- will make you feel good!
  • Organize a group clean-up or join a clean-up effort in your area.
  • Measure your ecological footprint at
  • Take a virtual tour of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge at
  • Download a printable copy of the EPA Happy Earth Day Coloring and Activities Book at
  • Turn off lights and appliances when they're not in use.
  • Carpool whenever possible. When you can, walk, ride your bike, or take public transportation.
  • Use scrap paper in your printer whenever possible.
  • Use salvaged materials for art projects. For project ideas, visit
  • Start a compost pile or worm bin. Check out for supplies and instructions.
  • Look into the possibility of switching to solar power.
  • Buy organic.
  • Purchase produce directly from a local farm by joining a CSA (community supported agriculture). It's fresh, wholesome, convenient, and great for trying new foods. To find a farm near you, visit
  • Forward this email to friends, family, and colleagues, and encourage them to subscribe.

Laptop Lunches in the News

Two school children enjoy waste-free Laptop Lunches, available online at

It's Earth Day 2004. What's for Lunch?

Laptop Lunches Reduce Landfill Waste, Help Schools Save Money

Santa Cruz, Calif. - March 22, 2004 - With American parents relying heavily on the convenience of prepackaged lunch items and foods wrapped in disposable wrappings--like baggies, aluminum foil, and plastic wrap--it's no surprise that lunchtime trash is among the top two leading sources of school waste.

In fact, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has estimated that a child who packs a disposable lunch leaves behind 67 pounds of waste per school year. That equates to 1.2 billion pounds of annual lunch waste for the more than 64,000 U.S. public elementary schools alone!

And discarded packaging is not the only culprit. Food waste is being hauled to landfills in record amounts, mainly in single-serve packages that, once opened, cannot be saved for later. "During our Earth Week trash audit last year, we found a lot of unopened and barely eaten single-serve packages still containing cheese sticks, yogurts, chips, and crackers. Drinks were a problem too with unopened and nearly-full juice boxes, pouches and cans at the top of the list," says Santa Cruz, CA parent, Laura Everett. "The kids can't wrap the food back up, so they toss it in the trash instead."

But Obentec, Inc. ( has made it "cool" for kids to pack waste-free lunches. The complete Laptop Lunch system features a set of colorful, reusable food containers, a refillable drink bottle, and stylish utensils--all packed inside an attractive carrying case. It even comes with a book of lunchmaking ideas.

"There's no mystery to packing a waste-free lunch," says Obentec CEO, Tammy Pelstring. "Once you make it part of your routine, it works great." In addition to recommending Obentec's Laptop Lunch System, Pelstring offers the following tips for packing waste-free lunches:

  • Get your kids involved. Even young children can participate in some way.

  • Buy foods in larger quantities and recycle the packaging at home.

  • Purchase lunch items from bulk bins and reuse plastic bags.

  • Keep plenty of dried fruit and nuts on hand.

  • Reduce your preparation time by maximizing leftovers.

  • If your mornings are rushed or hectic, pack lunches the night before and store them in the refrigerator overnight.

Packing a waste-free lunch not only reduces landfill waste, but it costs less too. A child taking a prepackaged lunch to school spends an average of $4.02 a day or $723.60 per school year compared to $2.65 a day ($477.00 per school year) for a child who packs a waste-free lunch--a difference of $246.60 per person per year!

But that's not all. When families pack disposable lunches, schools pay higher waste removal fees. Since fees are based on volume, schools that generate more waste, pay more to have it hauled away. Packing a waste-free lunch reduces the volume of trash and thus helps schools save money. After all, if everyone in the U.S. packed a waste-free lunch, 1.2 billion pounds of lunch waste would be diverted from the waste stream. That's a lot of trash, and that translates into huge savings for our families and our nation's schools.

Laptop Lunches are available online at and through select retailers nationwide. For a complete list of Obentec retailers, visit For more information on waste-free lunches, visit

What Works...Success Stories

  • "I am very pleased with my Laptop Lunch. Packing lunches in the morning is now a pleasure. Staff at my daughter's nursery school have commented what a good idea it is. It would be really great to see your product sold in the UK one day. For now I will pass your details onto any friends who show an interest in your product."

       --Leonnie Harrison, UK


  • "Great newsletter! I loved the recipes and food label suggestions. I actually read the entire thing! Thanks!"

       --Susan Crow, USA

Do you have a success story to share? Email it to us at [email protected].

Earth Day Specials

In support of Earth Day 2004, Obentec is pleased to offer discounted Laptop Lunch products to schools and other organizations interested in reducing lunchtime waste. For more information, visit

Featured Web Site:

Do you have a box, bag, closet, or even a whole garage full of stuff that you're hoping to recycle one of these days? For recycling information on just about an item you may have--from eyeglasses to inkjet cartridges--check out This resourceful Web site provides recycling guides and links for consumers in the US and Canada. The information is suitable for materials in regular household quantities. Their goal is "to help make recycling so easy and automatic that it blends into the flow of everyday life."

May Highlights

Wholesome desserts, composting tips, and bulk bin basics!

Comments, questions, concerns? Please email us at [email protected].

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April 2004, by Obentec, Inc.


Feel free to reprint or forward this newsletter with the following acknowledgement and contact information clearly visible: "Thank you to Obentec, Inc. for permission to use this copyrighted material. For more information, contact Obentec, Inc. by email at [email protected] or by phone at 831-457-0301, or visit their Web site at Reprint permission granted with this full notice included."