Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Greener Lunch Part 1 - The Lunchbox

Today I am looking at lunch boxes and all the ways you can make them greener. The average kids' school lunch is SO wasteful. Think about it - all those individually wrapped items, disposable napkins and utensils, unless your child's school has a great recycling program (ours does), the majority of that is going into the trash.
The best place to makeover your child's lunch starts with...the lunchbox. Just like their backpack counterparts, hiding behind those cute characters are toxic polyvinyl chloride, shoddy Chinese workmanship, and even lead. I don't know about you, but those are all things I would prefer to keep AWAY from my children's' food.

I am going to take a moment to plug one of my favorite sites. http://www.reusablebags.com/. They are a wonderful resource for all things reusable. I got the girls' lunchboxes there earlier this year. My favorite feature is that you can narrow your search by "made in the USA." I encourage you to begin your search here. I doubt you will have to look much further.

Now that I've mentioned them (Do you think they'll send me a freebie?), I will start breaking down what I consider to be the best eco-friendly lunchbox options out there.

Mimi the Sardine: These are the lunchboxes that my girls carry. Paige has the pink one with the mice in the second row and Summer has the one next to it with the cars. I really like these. They are nice and roomy on the inside and fit easily into the kids' backpacks, if need be. Summer loves that it looks like a fun purse. They are made from organic cotton with a PVC free acrylic coating that is Oeko-Tex certified. The best mom thing about these? They are machine washable and tumble dry! The one thing that put these lunch boxes over the top for us is the fact that they are made in the USA.
One of the other options that I was considering was this Bazura Bag. Bazura Bags come from a women’s co-op in the Philippines that set up a Livelihood Project assisted by the local village council. With almost no capital, the women found a very clever way to support themselves. Every day, children from the local schools collect over 50,000 used drink containers, called doy packs, then sell them to the co-op. The bags are sanitized and the women sew them together into attractive, durable bags. Unlike most third world factory workers toiling away in sweatshops, these women are entrepreneurs and shareholders. They work for themselves and have a positive impact on their community and, at the same time, they encourage environmentalism. These bags are a great example of the most basic principals of the green movement. They also don't just make lunchbags! There are all kinds of Bazura products, so even if you aren't looking for a lunchbox, I would encourage you to check out all the great products they have to offer.

Bento Boxes: These are a really fantastic option, although I have to admit I found them a little pricy. Bento boxes are modular systems that eradicate the need for individual disposable containers. The boxes are 100% lead free and made in the USA. The rest of the pieces are made using fair labor practices. These are definitely great if you are starting from scratch because this kit from reusablebags.com has just about everything you need in one place.

Another option for getting it all in one place (or if you really like everything to be matchy matchy), is the Kidz Konserve Waste-Free Lunch Kit. In this kit you get a recycled cotton lunch bag with a recycled aluminum nametag, cloth napkin, 16 oz. stainless steel beverage bottle, Food Kozy and two stainless steel food containers. I actually almost bought this set, but then decided that I would rather purchase made in the USA. (This was around the time that all the horrible things that were coming out of China was in the news)

One other company worth mentioning is Built NY. Their Munchlers bags are SO cute and would be great for preschoolers and their lunch sacks would be great for moms and teens! Most elementary school kids, though, in my opinion, kind of fall in between the two.

There are also tons of lunch sacks in all kinds of sustainable fabrics out there. Rawganique is a great place to look and reusablebags.com also carries several options. Support other creative moms and look for them on etsy OR, find the creative mom in yourself and make your own!

Next time on Bluebonnets and Haggis - all the things to put IN the lunchbox.

1 comment:

  1. The bags you got your girls are amazingly adorable!! I actually bought the bento lunchbox for my son but I wanted something prettier for my girls.