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It’s Time for a Lunch Reboot!

eco lunchbox splash box

Lunch Box Reboot Tips. From EEK! to ECO

As schools gear up for reopening, the familiar morning ritual of packing lunches is upon us once again. It's the perfect opportunity for a lunch reboot and a chance to put an end to the tidal wave of lunchtime plastic waste.

Let's bid adieu to single-use plastic and embrace eco-friendly habits instead. With just a little planning, we can not only ensure our children stay healthy and safe but also take a stand against the deluge of unnecessary plastic pollution, safeguarding our planet for future generations.

Did you know that lunchtime plastic waste poses a significant threat to our environment? Every day, mountains of plastic wrap, disposable containers, and plastic cutlery end up in landfills and oceans, wreaking havoc on wildlife and ecosystems. But fear not, with some simple changes, we can make a huge difference!

Here are some easy lunch box packing tips to take your child's lunchbox from EEK! to ECO.

EEK: BPA-Free Plastic

We've all heard about the dangers of BPA (bisphenol-A). This chemical widely found in plastics mimics estrogen, so it can cause all kinds of hormone disruptions.

Did you know that plastic companies have done a switcheroo and in order to label their products BPA-free, replaced it with BPS. Is the replacement, BPS, any better? The letters stand for Bisphenol Substitute and it's just a different estrogen-mimicking substance. Some researchers claim that BPS's is even more toxic than BPA.

We recommend that whenever possible families avoid using plastic, especially around foods, since labelling and safety is not consistently regulated.

ECO: Reusable Stainless Steel

Non-toxic, metal containers are awesome for packing lunch, right? This is certainly true when it comes to stainless steel, which is lighter weight than glass, non-breakable, reusable, and easy to clean. Not all metal is created equal. Too much aluminum in your life can cause a whole host of problems, both short- and long-term. Also beware, because many pre-packaged foods, such as the juice pouches and shiny metal-looking wrappers used on energy bars, are not actually packaged in metal - it’s metal-looking plastic! Be eco-liciously safe and stick to stainless steel!

Stainless steel and silicone containers, like our best selling ECOlunchbox Three-in-One and Blue Water Bento Splash Box, are great solutions that will last for many years and end up saving your family hundreds of dollars every year, according to our lunch study.

EEK: Blue Ice Packs

Keeping food cool, especially perishables that might spoil, is important, but using a blue ice pack is a poor solutions when it comes to sustainability. In our journey toward a greener and more sustainable lunchtime, it's crucial to reassess the everyday items we use and be creative in developing new eco-friendly, non-toxic solutions. Most people reflexively throw in an ice pack without pausing to think about the environmental downsides. Made of plastic and filled with gel beads, sodium polyacrylate and other chemicals, these blue ice packs are not recyclable and end up in the landfill where they leak into the ecosystem.

There's a better solution! Bid farewell to blue ice packs and make way for a more eco-friendly solution: steel water bottles packed with ice cubes! This simple yet effective alternative offers numerous benefits for both the environment and your child's health. 

Steel water bottles are durable and long-lasting, reducing the need for single-use plastic bottles and disposable containers. You're probably going to be packing a drink for your child so why not add ice - an entirely safe and chemical-free cooling solution. Plus, you won't be adding the extra weight and bulk of a blue ice pack in your child's lunch bag, so that's an upside as well.

eco lunchbox sealed cup trio
ECO: Good Ole Fashioned Hand Washing

Most kids eat lunch with their hands, so it’s important to keep germs at bay by sending your child to school with antibacterial hand sanitizer. Whenever possible encourage your child to use good ole fashioned soap and water to wash up before lunchtime.

Avoid single-use wet wipes commonly made from polyester and other plastic textiles that cannot be recycled and end up in the landfill. If you choose to use a hand sanitizer gel, keep a watchful eye on the ingredients bought in bulk. This way you can pack a small vial in your child’s lunchbox and refill it periodically from a larger container, saving from the landfill dozens of plastic containers. When it comes to ingredients, avoid triclosan since it’s a chemical that can lead to antibiotic resistance, hormone disruption, and can actually create a weakened immune system.

EEK: Compostable Bioplastics Cutlery

It sounds eco to choose compostable cutlery for your child’s lunch. Some of the organic, pre-packaged foods tout super cute bio-plastic utensils, which give parents a good feeling that by choosing bioplastics they’re doing the right thing.

But hold on a sec, plastic made from plants can’t be recycled. If the packaging says it’s compostable, find out more information because usually that means it can only be composted in a commercial facility. Who’s going to handle that? Choose to reuse instead. Pick out a stainless steel spork or bamboo utensil set.


EEK: Organic Juice Boxes and Snack Packs

Keeping the kiddos hydrated & energy packed is super important as a parent. Grab and go juice boxes and pre-packaged snacks seem like the perfect solution. But juice boxes end up in the landfill. Using a refillable bottle is much better for people and the planet. Plus, you can serve a lot of different drinks - not just juice.

Juice boxes and sacks are not recyclable. These single-use containers are trash because they’re made from either cardboard coated with plastic or layers of aluminum and plastic melded together. In more bad news, even if these containers are labelled BPA-free, beware that they may be leaching bisphenols into your child’s lovely organic juice. Eek!

About the Author

Sandra Ann Harris is the author of “Say Goodbye To Plastic: A Survival Guide For Plastic-Free Living” published in October 2020 by Hatherleigh Press. Her passion is protecting the oceans by reducing people's dependence on plastics. Her company ECOlunchbox, which she founded in 2008, innovates and sells high-quality, plastic-free food container solutions. She has a diverse background in business consulting, product development, investigative journalism, and digital marketing strategy, along with her work in the non-profit sector for a humanitarian aid organization. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

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