Some schools are now strongly suggesting that students who bring lunch do so in environmentally friendly packaging.

That means Tupperware, not Ziplocs bags; neoprene lunch bags, not brown paper ones, and aluminum water bottles instead of the plastic kind, according to The New York Times. Retailers like the Container Store are seeing a 30% year-over-year spike in sales for some reusable items as a result.

Meanwhile, sales of paper bags have fallen off a cliff, though sales of plastic bags are only down a bit by comparison.

"Between August 2010 and August 2011, unit sales of plastic sandwich bags sold declined by 3.17 percent," according to numbers from SymphonyIRI Group, a market research firm. "Paper bags fell by 13.19 percent, compared with the same period a year earlier."

There's no doubt that it's cheaper in the long run if you use re-useables. So this looks to me like the beginning of a clear trend.

Elsewhere around the world, some towns in Japan are near 100% recycling compliance with their waste. That super emphasis on recycling is partly because Japan has very little land available for landfills. However, we have tons of land for landfills here in America, but the land is very expensive.

Years ago, I remember how if you took trash and put it in can -- instead of throwing it by the side of the road -- you were considered an environmentalist. Today, however, the person who puts garbage that's unsorted into a trashcan is considered an anti-environmentalist. Funny how things change over time!

Editor's note: This segment originally aired Sept. 2011.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off. View More Articles

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