Sustaining Ancient Traditions & Environmental Consumer Products
Our dynamic and colorful textiles speak of places and traditions far away yet the design of our lunchbags with napkins is contemporary and well suited for the modern eco-consumer. The cotton lunchbags are machine washable, come with matching napkins and designed to pair with our non-leaching stainless steel lunchboxes.
The best place to begin our story is in the villages where ECOlunchboxes Founder and CEO Sandra Ann Harris has sourced the hand-printed fabrics for her line of unique lunchbags. Deep in the Gujarat deserts there is an ancient textile tradition of hand-printed fabrics.
The Khatri craftsmen use wooden blocks and screens techniques to create richly colored fabrics with traditional designs. The dyes used are a mix of both natural plant-based dyes and synthetic dyes for brighter colors. Scattered throughout the villages of the Kachchh region are printers carrying on their exquisite textile traditions.
It is here that the ECOlunchbag fabrics come from as we source in the fair trade tradition directly from the artisans. For hundreds of years, and even today, the Khatri printers have distinguished themselves worldwide with their hand-printing techniques. Their eye-catching designs, coupled with the warmth and imperfection of their handwork, have been used traditionally in local kurtis, saris and other Indian clothing.
Small workshops are set up in village huts with dirt floors and thatched roofs and, more recently, in simple concrete block homes with corrugated metal roofs. Between color dying, the printers spread their fabrics out on the sandy ground to dry and set the dyes in the scorching heat of the desert sun. Much of the dying and fixing is still done in enormous cast-iron pots over wood burning fires. This is a low-tech process yielding lovely results.
The nubby solid-colored fabrics are handwoven and handspun Khadi textiles. The Khadi fabric becomes even more beautiful once you know its history tying back to Mahatma Gandhi's freedom struggle. Khadi was introduced in 1920 as part of Ghandi's national movement to boycott foreign goods, especially milled textiles from Britain, as well as provide employment opportunities to inspire self discipline and self sacrifice as a part of Ghandi's non-cooperation movement.
ECOlunchbags are a modern melding of these hand-printed textiles with modern design. The combination promotes environmental sustainability and supports these artisans and their textile arts.
As modernity reaches its long hand from the urban centers of the West deep into India, the demand for block prints, hand screen prints and wax batiks made by the local people continues to shrink. Instead, the youth favor Western factory-made fashions from commercial fabrics as seen on television. ECOlunchbags with their matching stainless steel ECOlunchbox 3-in-1, which is also handmade in India, create a cultural bridge between the remote desert artisans and the forward-looking, eco consumers who purchase our line of lunchware designed to be healthy for people and the planet.
“People cannot survive on tales of tradition alone,” said Sandra Ann Harris, who founded ECOlunchboxes in 2008 and previously worked for a humanitarian aid NGO in Vietnam. “There must be a vibrant market for these artisan traditions. It is a simple tale of supply and demand. No demand for the hand-worked cloth? Then, of course, production of these textile arts will dwindle and eventually disappear. These cultural and artistic traditions will be erased by cheaper fabrics from machine-printed, big-city factories.”
At ECOlunchboxes we are proud to honor these craftspeople and the traditions of their hand-worked cloth as well as play a small part in working to ensure their perpetuity.
Lunching sustainably can mean many things. Perhaps the homemade food you pack in our lunchbags and boxes comes from sustainable sources. Certainly reducing your family’s reliance on leaching and non-biodegradable plastics is a step toward environmental sustainability. Eliminating lunchtime waste is also environmentally helpful.
Furthermore, please join us at ECOlunchboxes in celebrating our fabrics – an endeavor in sustainability in itself. For by using these traditional textiles can indeed say that we are additionally taking positive steps toward sustaining these textile craftspeople and their cultural traditions.
Thank you for joining us at ECOlunchboxes in lunching sustainably – in so many ways! What could taste better than that?
Our stainless steel lunchboxes are responsibly made in India, Thailand and China from high quality, food-grade stainless steel. Steel is a highly valued and highly recycled commodity unlike plastic. The rate of steel recycling is increasingly every year with the current rate up from about 66% to 90% currently, according to the International Stainless Steel Forum. The global rate of plastic recycling, however, remains at about 1% with the remainder of the plastic ending up in the landfill or lost in the environment, such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
In Thailand and China, type 304 stainless steel is used in the production of our ECOlunchbox Oval and Blue Water Bento lunchboxes. Also known as 18/8, this high-quality and food-safe steel has at least 18% chromium and 8% nickel. Our other lunchboxes, including the Three-in-One, Solo Cube, Solo Rectangle and snack containers, are made in India from type 201 steel containing 17 to 19% chromium and 4 to 6% nickel.
Steel types vary by country of origin, so ECOlunchbox has chosen to use two different types of stainless steel in its products.
Both of these materials used in the fabrication of ECOlunchbox’s lunchboxes are third-party tested for purity and corrosion resistance. An adequate percentage of chromium is important when selecting a stainless steel since this element creates corrosion resistance. We also test to safeguard against lead and other hard metals that could be unsafe. Stainless steel is available with various metallic compositions. Regardless of the type of steel used, to maintain stainless steel for longtime use, proper cleaning and care is necessary.
ECOlunchbox values labor standards and has researched each of the factories where our products are produced to ensure that practices are fair, safe and equitable for the people involved in making our products. Children do not work in the factories where our products are produced.