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My Story Began At Lunchtime

My Story Began At Lunchtime

ECOlunchbox founder, Sandra Ann Harris, on her ECOluncbox journey and the importance of plastic-free living.

Change is a curious thing. The world around us can feel stagnant for so long and all of sudden we look up and everything is different. Think about plastic for a moment. It wasn’t too long ago that we didn’t think much about this ubiquitous petroleum-based material.

I founded ECOlunchbox in 2008. When it comes to plastic, that was the dark ages. But these days, the BYO bag is in full swing, plastic bag bans are cropping up around the world, and my “Tupperware” drawer is all steel and glass. There’s a huge difference now in our social mindset around plastic!

ECOlunchbox ganesha symbolizing change at lunchtime

Here's our ECOlunchbox ganesha symbolizing change at lunchtime! Photo by: David Allen Studio

The thing is, the change we’re witnessing in terms of surging awareness around the negative health and environmental effects of plastic, hasn’t happened overnight. We’ve been working 8 years for this change here at ECOlunchbox with our community and plastic pollution activists to methodically and patiently equip the world with our nifty no-plastic lunchtime tools.

My moment of inspiration came with my kids’ lunchboxes when they were in pre-school and the trash bins were overflowing with plastic waste. It got so bad, the director of the school established a “pack it in, pack it out” policy. She stopped accepting the trash because her waste bill was too expensive.

Seeing the excessive amount of waste generated by our little school was a huge wake-up call for me. I was also hearing about health problems related to toxins in plastics. Using so much plastic sounded like a lose-lose situation to me.

That’s when I made the decision to significantly reduce my family’s use of plastics, but I needed tools. If I wasn’t going to pack my kids’ lunches in plastic - what containers would I use? Only plastic was available at that time. I decided that if I couldn’t buy it, I’d have to design and make it myself.

Before creating my first product, I dove headfirst into into researching plastic manufacturers and their practices. It was tough going. This was a relatively unexplored, and frankly secretive, field. Luckily, my former career as an investigative journalist and international humanitarian aid worker gave me the skills and determination to keep going.

It seems a little nuts now, but back in 2008 my passion for reducing dependence on plastics was far from the norm! When I started discussing the dangers of plastic, my friends and family even thought I was a touch on the kooky side. Nowadays, everyone knows the dangers of plastic and plastic waste. It seems like a no brainer we should use less of of the stuff, right? I’m glad the “mainstream” is finally catching up!

Please know that when you purchase a stainless steel bento, cotton lunch tote with reusable napkin, or other plastic-free lunch accessory from ECOlunchbox, you join us in this making change. Thank you! These items are all  tools empowering you to live a more plastic-free life.

This may seem relatively insignificant when you think of the state of our planet these days. But instead of getting discouraged by the weight of things, we take a more positive approach, sharing with our community how powerfully they are helping, day by day, year by year.

We track our planet impact annually. I must admit, the first time I saw the numbers, I was floored. With hundreds of thousands lunchboxes sold, the ECOlunchbox community annually averts tens of millions of pieces of trash (mostly plastic) from use and disposal. That’s the equivalent of 13 millions miles driven per year! You can read more about our carbon footprint and planet impact here.

ECOlunchbox is bigger than just lunch. It’s a community where we can unite to make empowering changes to benefit our own health and the health of our planet while, all the while, relishing the joy of eating a delicious lunch in a gorgeously eco container. Thanks for joining me in this plastic-free journey.

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