The quest for the perfect eco-friendly lunchbox
It can feel overwhelming looking for the perfect lunchbox for your kids. There are so many options out there, from the cheap plastic numbers available at the supermarket to the more pricey bento boxes that can be purchased online or from health and eco shops. But is there a lunchbox out there that will meet all your needs as well as being eco-friendly?
Depending on your children’s eating habits, you might require separate sections for pieces of fruit and veges, dry snacks and sandwiches and perhaps a sealed section for wet meals like salads or pasta. For active, growing kids with big appetites, the hope is that one box will fit everything they need for their school day.
Many parents will balk at the price attached to a stainless steel lunchbox but the upside is – as long as it is not lost or suffers a broken clasp – it should potentially last forever. When you think about how often a plastic lunchbox needs to be replaced, which for most kids is at least annually, the price of a stainless box is actually quite reasonable. Stainless or not, with all the terrible environmental news out there, many of us are looking for a lunchbox that won’t have an adverse effect on the environment and will last a long time. The best way to do this is to avoid plastic, so we have picked out five great, non-plastic lunchboxes, and reviewed them according to affordability, hardiness, longevity, ease of use, size, and sustainability.
The perfect lunchbox may not exist, but here are a few that come pretty close.
Wean Green 850ml glass lunchbox – available online from The Sleepstore Glass might seem like an odd choice for primary kids, who tend to throw their bags around, but the glass used here is up to 5x stronger than regular glass. They are also very economical, easy to clean, completely recyclable and non-toxic. An insulated lunchbag could be used to prevent breakages if you’re not sure you’re monkey can handle glass. These tick all the size and ease of use boxes, as they can fit a whole piece of fruit and are able to be thrown in the dishwasher. The lids also seal to prevent spills. $17.95 for 850ml box.
Brandenburg Heavy-Duty Lunchbox – available on Amazon, You may find it more affordable to order stainless steel lunchboxes through websites such as Amazon, although bear in mind this has the added carbon footprint of your parcel being shipped across the globe. This can perhaps be countered if you are buying a few at a time – and if it is the only way you can afford stainless steel, it is probably still better than buying breakable plastic boxes. These fit almost anything, although you will need to chop large fruit. They also have a nice upper layer tray that can take dry snacks such as nuts or crackers. $22.95 NZD + postage.
4MyEarth Cotton Canvas Insulated Lunchbag – available from Earth Mama Generally speaking, insulated lunchbags work well for a time, but tend to get manky unless you are very careful to look after them. The linings will often tear and they are hard to keep clean and dry. They do work well as insulation and protection for other lunchboxes, especially if heat or cold is a problem. This one looks good though, as it is handmade ethically in India from BPA, Phthalate & lead free cotton canvas. If looked after well and cleaned out regularly, it should last at least a couple of years. The good thing about these is you can fit anything inside and can use your own small containers and wax wraps to contain snacks or sandwiches. You can even get a drink bottle in there, along with a cooler pack if needed. $36.95
Large Double-Layer Meals in Steel – available at Meals in Steel If you would rather buy local and receive your package more quickly, without the guilt associated with international online purchases, the larger Meals in Steel boxes are very similar to those available on Amazon, except instead of the upper tray, they come with a small container that fits inside for yoghurt or small snacks. No whole piece of fruit here either but the separate, stacking sections are good for keeping chopped fruit from soggying your sandwiches. $54.95
Planetbox – available from The Lunchbox Queen These are a fun, high quality variety of stainless steel lunchbox that will be sure to bring a smile to your child’s face. Your bank account might suffer for that smile though, as these are on the high end of the price scale. They have the bonus of many different compartments for snacks but, again, do not take a whole piece of fruit. You can get cute magnets and dishwasher-proof stickers to personalise them but note these can also be used for other stainless steel lunchboxes. From $95
Any other suggestions?