More about our product materials
What kind of stainless steel do you use?
All of the stainless steel used in our lunchboxes and snack containers is high quality, food safe, corrosion resistant and independently tested.
Our ECOlunchbox Oval and yogurt cup and the Blue Water Bento collection with non-toxic 100% silicone lids are made in China of high-quality, food-grade 304 stainless steel. All other ECOlunchbox stainless steel bentos are made in India with high-quality, food-grade stainless steel 201 or 304. Both types of steel are excellent for food containers and with proper care (see below) will last for a very long time!
What kind of silicone do you use in your Blue Water Bento lids?
Our Blue Water Bento collection uses a pure food-grade silicone that meets FDA and NSF testing requirements. The non-toxic, plastic-free material has multiple upsides for users. Here's why we love our silicone! It's non-stick, flexible and easy to clean, and doesn't dry out and crack with use! Our recyclable silicone lids (scroll down to recycling FAQs for more about recycling silicone) are dishwasher safe and oven safe up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celcius). The silicone lids are also freezer safe, but beware because it's risky to freeze in our steel containers. Liquids swell when frozen and if the steel container is overfilled the freezing will split the steel.
Why are silicone lids better than plastic?
From a human and environmental health perspective, we believe that silicone is currently the best material available for snap-on, leak-proof food container lids because it's long-lasting and free of estrogen-mimicking chemicals commonly found in plastics, like bisphenol-A (BPA).
Silicone is a synthetic polymer made from the Earth's element silicon, which is the second most abundant element in the earth's crust and makes up about 27% of the average rock. When mixed with oxygen, silicon becomes silica and is present in nature as sand and quartz that are commonly used in making glass.
Non-toxic and rubber-like, the silicone material used in our products is much more durable and longer lasting than plastic and it does not contain petroleum. Silicone resists degradation resulting from prolonged use as well as exposure to extreme temperatures and can safely be put in the dishwasher or the oven. Although silicone is not biodegradeable, scientists believe the material is not hazardous to the environment nor toxic to aquatic or soil organisms.
If for some reason (very uncommon!) your silicone lid needs to be recycled, we recommend you contact your local recycler to ask if they accept silicone. Otherwise, you are welcome to mail back damaged silicone lids to our headquarters at ECOlunchbox, P.O. Box 1602, Lafayette, Calif. 94549.
Please wash all products with warm soapy water prior to first use.
How do I wash my stainless steel food containers?
With hot soapy water and detergent - or in the dishwasher! Do not use bleach, harsh chemicals, abrasive cleansers or pads. With proper care and cleaning, your stainless steel lunchboxes may be used for years and years to come.
Does stainless steel corrode or stain?
Stainless steel is a material that is used extensively in the kitchen due to its general resilience against things like heat and corrosion, along with a pretty good level of stain resistance.
Usually, the chromium within stainless steel reacts to oxygen in the air and forms a protective film, preventing problems like rust and reducing the risk of permanent marks. With gentle care and regular cleaning, stainless steel will often last for many years and resist developing rust or stains!
However, while stainless steel is highly resistant to corrosion, it's not completely impervious.
If it’s treated with harsh chemicals, like bleach, or its surface is coated with grease or dirt and not regularly cleaned, the stainless steel is more vulnerable to corrosion and wear. Regular gentle cleaning is required to preserve the appearance and integrity of its surface. In fact, stainless steel actually thrives with frequent cleaning, and, unlike some other materials, it is impossible to "wear out" stainless steel by excessive cleaning.
Cleaning Tips & Tricks for Stainless Steel
- Wash by hand or in the dishwasher with detergent will clean stainless steel safely and thoroughly. Follow with a hot water rinse.
- To remove food stuck to your lunchbox:
- Soak the container in warm soapy water and then clean with hot soapy sponge.
- Another gentle but tough approach to removing deposits and stains is to use a baking soda paste. Simply mix a tablespoon of soda with a little water into a thick paste. Coat the problem area and leave for half an hour. Then rub with a damp cloth, rinse and dry.
- For more stubborn cases, a Nylon non-abrasive pad with detergent should be adequate for dealing with most deposits.
- Please note: Water with a high mineral content tends to leave water spots, so in this case, it is recommended you wipe the surface completely dry with a clean, dry cloth.
No Bleach... and Other No-nos
- Bleach will stain and damage stainless steel, do not use cleaning sprays or solutions that contain bleach.
- Never use steel wool or steel brushes. They will scratch the surface of your stainless steel and make it more susceptible to rusting and staining.
- Abrasive cleaners will scratch the surface and should always be avoided.
- Dirty water and cleaning solutions can leave a residue that can stain and damage the surface, so don’t forget to rinse and dry.
- Long-term exposure to table salt and salt and vinegar mixes can damage stainless steel.
- In order to reduce chance of staining, do not allow the following acidic food items to remain on stainless steel surfaces for hours: ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and salad dressing.
Are the silicone lids dishwasher safe?
The silicone lids used in our Blue Water Bento collection are dishwasher safe. They can also be hand washed. Avoid harsh chemicals like bleach.
In case of food odors, wash the lids with a paste made from baking soda and water. Simply mix a tablespoon of soda with a little water into a thick paste. Coat the problem area and leave for half an hour. Then rub with a damp cloth, rinse and dry.
How do I wash the bags and napkins?
How do I wash bamboo utensils?
Wash your bamboo utensils in hot soapy water. Towel dry. Bamboo is not dishwasher safe. Do not soak.
Hot or Cold
Are your lunchboxes insulated?
Our new Blue Water Bento Insulated Canister keeps food hot or cold 8 plus hours. It's a vacuum-insulated container with an exceptional circular design.
Our ECOlunchbox Classic and Blue Water Bento lunch box collections are made with the traditional single layer of stainless steel and do not function as a thermos. They will keep food warm for about an hour. Remember the stainless steel container will take on the temperature of your food, so if you put hot scrambled eggs in, your ECOlunchbox will become hot as well!
ECO TIP: Food will keep cool in an ECOlunchbox tucked inside an ECOlunchbag. Here are a couple of strategies to keeping food cold – pack a stainless steel water bottle with ice and top off with water to use as a plastic-free icepack inside your lunchbag. Alternately, we suggest wrapping a conventional reusable icepack in one of our ECOnapkins and adding it to your lunch! This will keep the container cool and catch any condensation from the icepack.
Can I warm food in ECOlunchboxes?
Yes, but be careful! Stainless steel is oven safe and foods can be warmed in our ECOlunchboxes up to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit. A toaster oven also works great! Use over a camp stove is also acceptable. (Please note: Heating over a campfire might work if done carefully, but the fire will blacken the bottom and it's harder to control the heat, so the container could get damaged and we don't recommend it.) Keep in mind that metal is conductive and will get hot. We recommend using a pot-gripper to lift your hot lunchbox.
Our Blue Water Bento collection made from steel with silicone lids is also oven safe up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Stainless steel is not for use in the microwave. Our containers are not recommended for freezing foods either since freezing swells liquids and the expansion will split the steel.
Help Removing Sticker Labels
The sticker is difficult to remove, what can I do?
We have changed our stickers so that the glue is no longer too sticky! Usually the stickers will peel off in one piece if an edge is lifted and the sticker is gently pulled off the box.
However, if you have purchased a lunchbox with a super sticky sticker (stock sold before June 2021), we know it's not fun to get stuck in the kitchen working on a sticker removal project. Sorry!
Use a hair dryer to warm the label and soften the glue before attempting to remove the sticker. When the adhesive is warmed, sticker will peel off in one piece. To see how this is done, watch this video:
Other stubborn sticker removal options include:
- Soak the container in hot soapy water to loosen sticker.
- Rub sticker/glue with a cloth soaked in vinegar to soften glue.
- If that doesn't work, smear vegetable oil on the sticker, let sit for 20 minutes or so and then use a rough pot scrubber to remove.
- Lastly, if the other options haven't worked for you, soak the container in boiling water, allow to cool slightly until you can handle, then scrub sticker off.
Adjusting Clips and More
How do I make clips tighter or looser?
The clips on our ECOlunchbox Three-in-One Classic, Three-in-One Giant, and Tri Bento can be adjusted! We do NOT recommend adjusting the clips of the ECOlunchbox Oval & Snack Cup. The clips are very rigid and trying to bend them could break the weld.
Some people like a hard tight snap when they clip shut their ECOlunchbox. But little people often like a less tight clip, so it's easier to open and close our lunch boxes all by themselves.
Regardless of how tight the clip is, we recommend pushing open the clips of our stainless steel food containers with your meaty part of your thumb. Learning to open/close a Tupperware container may take a bit of practice and, in the case of small children, some basic instruction. The same is true with our ECOlunchboxes. Typically, children and adults fumble a bit with the clips the first two or three times and then the opening/closing becomes very intuitive and easy!
For step by step instructions, watch the video below.
Since 2018, our clips cannot be removed from the Three-in-One lunchbox and you won't have any issue with them falling out.
I can't open my Blue Water Bento Insulated Canister
Have you ever had trouble opening a thermal water bottle or food container? We have! What happens is that you put in hot food, seal the container and when you try to open it several hours later, it’s sealed shut. The liquid or food inside has cooled enough to create a temperature differential and resulting suction that makes opening impossible.
Worry no more that you or your child will get stuck with an unopenable, suction-sealed thermos. ECOlunchbox has designed a clever pull-tab loop on the green silicone gasket to break suction seals easily and unscrew the lid. Simply, pull the tab and you’ll hear a little “whoosh” as the suction seal breaks and the container becomes easily openable.
My 3-in-1 Splash Box Top and Bottom Is Stuck Together?
Occasionally the top and bottom layers of the 3-in-1 Splash Box get stuck together by suction. Don't worry. It's not broken. Sometime the parts get stuck together due to suction. Cold air in the bottom section sometimes contracts and creates a suction, making it difficult to separate it from the top layer. Travel via airmail or at altitude will also sometimes create this suction when the lunchbox is opened at sea level due to pressure changes.
Not to worry! This is not a defect. Once the layers are separated, you'll have easy use of the bento box and this problem is unlikely to reoccur.
We suggest that you warm the box to increase the temperature of the air inside the lower compartment to make the suction seal less strong. Put in a bowl of hot water and weight it down for about 10 minutes to heat the air so it expands and the suction reduces. Lay the box down on its long side and grap the bottom with your left hand and the top with your right hand - pull apart and gently twist to break the suction seal. If the hot water doesn't do the trick, put into the oven at 200 for 15 minutes, remove with pot holder and follow instructions above to break the seal.
We're thrilled that our innovative design is very leakproof when the container is in use, but sorry for this unexpected (and unavoidable, as far as we can tell!) issue. We're not sure how to accomplish both leakproof function and avoid this occasional inconvenience.
Replacement parts and silicone recycling
I've lost a part. Can you help me?
Longevity of use is important to us at ECOlunchbox. That's why we provide replacement lids in Lids & Parts.
Additionally, we're sorry but due to the varying molds and hand-finishing techniques used in our ECOlunchbox classic line, we are unable to provide replacement lids for our 100% steel containers. We can't guarantee the steel lids from one batch of molds will fit a lunchbox from another batch.
End of life info. Recycling steel, silicone and textiles?
We build our products to last, but sometimes things break. If one of your steel bento boxes gets damaged beyond use, your local recycler will generally accept it curbside or you may drop it off at a recycling depot and be paid for the steel based on its weight.
When it comes to our silicone lids, it's very rare they get damaged, but if you need to recycle a damaged one don't worry. Yes, we are able to recycle silicone. It has low melting points, making it easy to recycle. The process consists of grinding it down and converting it into pellets than can be molded and extruded to produce new products.
Find a recycling depot that accepts silicone in your area or you're welcome to mail back damaged silicone lids to our headquarters at ECOlunchbox, P.O. Box 1602, Lafayette, Calif. 94549. We work with TerraCycle's mail-back program to recycle silicone returns.
For circular design information about all our products and how to handle end-of-life recycling, we've created a searchable Google Spreadsheet database, and we also invite you to read our end-of-life blog post.
How can I separate Blue Water Bento Canister bamboo lid for composting?
When we set out to design an ECOlunchbox thermos, our goal was to create a first-of-its-kind fabulous container that our community could use joyfully for a long time and then recycle and biodegrade mindfully at end of life — instead of tossed in a landfill. ECOlunchbox’s approach to designing our new Blue Water Bento Insulated Canister is called “circular” or “cradle to cradle” design because we’ve solved for health and environmental impacts at every stage of the product’s lifecycle -- from inception to disposal.
With our Blue Water Bento Canister, there’s no molded plastic of any kind used in the design. In fact, our lid threading is made from steel. Each material used in the product easily separates for recycling! The steel base is 100% recyclable. The etched bamboo lid, which features wood insulation instead of molded plastic, can be removed with a flat head screwdriver and composted at home or commercially. (Note: many recyclers won’t even require the bamboo lid topper to be removed since it’s a biodegradable part.) The silicone gasket can be mailed back to ECOlunchbox for recycling or turned in at a regional recycling depot that accepts silicone.
Shipping and Returns
How much does shipping cost?
We ship via UPS or USPS. Shipping costs can be calculated from the shopping cart before proceeding to checkout.
Shipping costs for the contiguous United States are as follows:
- Spare parts purchases up to $7.00 will cost $3.00 in shipping.
- Purchases from $7.01 - $49.99 will cost $5.00 in shipping domestically. International shipments are paid by buyers and rates calculated at checkout.
- Purchases over $60.00 will ship free domestically. International shipments are paid by buyers and rates calculated at checkout.
Please note: ECOlunchbox ships domestically using the most economical rate available from either USPS or UPS Ground. Buyers who have a carrier preference may use the pull-down menu in the cart to make their choice and accept that carrier's shipping costs.
I just placed my order, when will my items ship?
Your order will ship out from California within 3-5 business days. For domestic orders, we usually ship USPS Priority Mail but you can also select UPS services. We ship from California so most orders shipped via USPS will arrive within 3 business days once it leaves our warehouse. Orders shipped via UPS ground can take 5-7 business days depending on your location.
We do offer expedited shipping options upon special request, please call or email us to place your order if you need a quicker turn around.
The map below provides estimated shipping times for the USPS Priority orders after the 3 day fulfillment window.
Do you ship internationally?
Yes, we ship to most international countries via USPS First class or Priority Mail. It can take up to 2-5 weeks to have your order delivered, depending on the shipping service selected. Please be aware that some countries can impose custom duty taxes (VAT) depending on the order amount.
Can I return my ECOlunchbox if I don't like it?
Yes we accept returns. If you're not happy with your ECOlunchbox, please vist our Customer Care page to read our return policy for items sold through our Web store.
If you purchased your ECOlunchbox from another retailer, such as Amazon.com, please return the item to that retailer.
Shipping misdeliveries, stolen packages, insurance, etc...
Sometimes packages get lost, delayed or stolen. This is disappointing, but fortunately most of our retail orders are shipped USPS Priority Mail and some are shipped UPS (check your packing slip to see what service was used for your shipment). In either instance, our shipments are insured up to $100.
For extra peace of mind, you can purchase Route insurance in the cart. This is a third-party insurer that charges 2 percent of the order value or a minimum of 98 cents. In cases of non delivery, Route will have your order reshipped and you won't have to deal with filing a claim with USPS or UPS. As an added benefit, you'll have enhanced tracking.
In instances of lost, stolen, damaged or delayed shipments, it is the customers responsibility to contact the carrier for resolution. ECOlunchbox will make every effort to provide any necessary information (tracking #, tracking history, etc.) to simplify the process.
For example, if there's a problem with a lost or suspected stolen package, ECOlunchbox suggests you ask your mail carrier or UPS delivery person for information. Ideas include leaving a note on your mailbox or front door, speaking to the delivery person or calling your local post office branch or UPS customer service to get more information. Sometimes the carrier will be able to help you locate your package.
But if the carrier confirms it was left at your delivery address and you still can't find your ECOlunchbox shipment or there's an unexplained delivery delay, please use your invoice and tracking number to file an online claim with the U.S. Postal Service or UPS. Please let us know if you need documentation from ECOlunchbox to support your claim.
Plastic Free & Carbon Neutral Shipments
Since our founding, ECOlunchbox has endeavored to strictly avoid the use of plastic in all of our products. Our mission is to help families reduce their dependence on plastic by providing high-quality, plastic-free food container options. So, we're no strangers to ditching plastic, but removing plastic from our shipments proved tough to accomplish until recently.
In 2019 we announced a series of improvements to our packaging and shipping materials that have resulted in plastic-free shipments of all ECOlunchbox branded products.
We swapped the poly bags we used to protect our Blue Water Bento silicone lids from dust with recyclable tissue paper wrappers. The Blue Water Bento organic lunch bags are now shipped in recycled kraft bags. And the ECOlunchpod tucked in the top compartment of the Three-in-One Classic currently ships with a kraft paper belly band to prevent scratching in transit instead of a polybag.
We replaced plastic tape with recyclable kraft paper tape. Wherever we can, we are plucking out more and more plastic from our back-end operations, including when it comes to office supplies and our standard operating procedures as a certified California Green Business. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers are going plastic-free yet. Some of our third-party accessories, like the Silicone Bento Cups (12 pack), Tableware Trio, and Silicone Smoothie Straws are still shipped in poly bags. Unfortunately, that's how the manufacturers provide these products.
To mitigate the climate impact of shipping our products, our UPS shipments travel carbon neutral! ECOlunchbox counter balances the carbon dioxide emissions generated by the transport of our UPS packages by purchasing carbon offsets. This means that for every ton of CO2 ECOlunchbox shipments produce in transportation, we fund an equivalent amount of CO2 saved by a verified emission reduction project. Global projects include reforestation, landfill gas destruction, wastewater treatment, and methane destruction.
Purchasing carbon offsets for our UPS shipments is just one of several initiatives we have in place at ECOlunchbox to help combat global warming. To learn more about additional offsets we purchase and other eco-friendly operations strategies we have put in place, go to our blog about our certification as a California Green Business.
It Takes a Village...
Why was ECOlunchbox founded?
ECOlunchbox was started by eco mom Sandra Ann Harris, who lives in Lafayette, Calif. with her husband and two school-age children. Sandra wanted to make available lunchware for families that would help them reduce their dependence on plastics for health and environmental benefits. Plastic is a petroleum-based material that leaches chemicals in our food, our bodies and the environment.
How can I submit new product ideas to ECOlunchbox?
ECOlunchbox strives to make available everyday "tools" for the green family. We believe that by going green at lunchtime and using our no-waste, no-plastic products families can save their health, the environment & their pocketbook! Our ECOlunchbox lunch waste study shows that a typical family using conventional throw-aways generates approximately 4,320 pieces of trash annually and the disposable packaging costs more than $400 annually!
If you have a new product idea that dovetails with our mission to help families reduce their dependence on plastics, especially at lunchtime, we'd love to hear from you. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.