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ECOlunchbox Marks Its 15th Earth Day

ECOlunchbox Marks Its 15th Earth Day

A message from our founder sharing the history of our founding 15 years ago as an Earth-centric consumer products company.

This year marks the 15th Earth Day since ECOlunchbox started its journey. It's a milestone prompting reflection on the past and anticipation for the future. I still vividly remember the humble beginnings, selling ECOlunchboxes alongside my kids, aged 5 and 8, at a community craft fair. This year we have our sights set on surpassing the milestone of 1 million lunch boxes sold. 

Since our founding, Earth Day has been ECOlunchbox’s most precious holiday. During the lead-up to the annual celebration on April 22, the mainstream media turns its attention to environmental coverage and it’s a season when citizens are more receptive to adopting eco-friendly habits, like packing a plastic-free lunch! Wholesale buyers are also more amenable to prominently featuring products like ours with table displays and signage inviting shoppers to choose sustainable products.

Zero Waste Containers - Shop Now

Zero Waste Containers - Shop Now

The annual Earth Day event has mobilized millions of people to advocate for environmental protection and sustainability since its founding in 1970. Similarly, ECOlunchbox’s Earth-centric mission has always been to educate, inspire, and empower individuals to combat plastic pollution since our founding in 2008. Our company has mobilized hundreds of thousands of consumers to choose plastic-free containers in lieu of conventional plastic alternatives.

While environmental advocacy has traditionally been the work of nonprofits, ECOlunchbox has been on the forefront of leveraging a for-profit business model to fund its mission. Instead of asking for donations, ECOlunchbox has sold products and used its platform as a consumer products company to educate about plastic pollution and participate in environmental events and policy initiatives.

For-profit ventures like ECOlunchbox were called “triple bottom line” businesses at that time, because we measured our results on positive outcomes for people and planet plus profit. All together, our bottom lines have always been people, planet and profit. Nowadays businesses like ours are called socially and environmentally responsible and some like us certify as a B Corporation to promote “business as a force for good.”

We are a privately held woman-owned company that has grown organically by reinvesting our profits into expanding our product line and growing our communities. While we attempted to raise angel funding, investors were dissuaded by our business model.

Fortunately, the excellence of our products has enabled us to win market share over the years despite being unable to afford advertising. Buyers have found us. Our breakthrough came shortly after at Expo West, a massive natural products show in California where we captured the attention of wholesale buyers in 2009, propelling us into Whole Foods stores across Northern California. 

The momentum continued as we shortly secured nationwide distribution with The Container Store boasting 60 stores nationwide. Subsequently, our products found their way onto shelves at Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Anthropologie, and various other outlets. However, the onset of the pandemic brought sales nearly to a halt since schools and offices closed and people turned to eating at home instead of packing lunches to go.

100% Steel ECOlunchboxes - Shop Now

100% Steel ECOlunchboxes - Shop Now

We faced additional hurdles including the Ukraine war, a downturn in the European economy, a freight supply chain crisis, and an economic slowdown in the USA. These obstacles slowed our progress, but they didn't extinguish our determination. We've been steadily rebuilding ever since.

Change, as they say, is the only constant. Reflecting on the evolution of attitudes towards plastic, it's remarkable to witness the shift from its ubiquity to widespread recognition of its harmful effects. Back in 2008, when I founded ECOlunchbox, awareness about plastic pollution was scarce. Today initiatives like plastic bag bans and the popularity of reusable alternatives signify a significant change in societal mindset.

ECOlunchbox represents more than just a lunch container; it's a symbol of empowerment and environmental stewardship. Together, we forge ahead, embracing the joy of eco-conscious living while making a positive impact on our planet. Thank you for joining me on this journey towards a plastic-free future.

Greenly yours,

Sandra Ann Harris is the founder and owner of ECOlunchbox based in Lafayette, Calif. She has written a book called Say Goodbye To Plastic: A Survival Guide For Plastic-Free Living that tells the story of ECOlunchbox and offers many plastic-free living tips.

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