What’s for lunch, you ask? Maybe the better question is what’s lunch packed in, instead?
That’s right, so many lunch boxes on the market today are made with toxic materials and/or tear at the sight of them. And with the cost of some of those ‘stylish bags,’ that hurts! So how do you find the best lunch boxes? Glad you asked! We’ve got several right here!
Some say lunch is the most important meal of the day, as too many skip breakfast now, fasting intermittently or even just skipping because they’re out of time or energy. And what we take our lunch to school or work in is important, as so many of those cute character bags your child screams bloody murder for are fairly toxic in their materials. So we scoped our mama forums and talked with experts, looking for the best lunch boxes for every day of the year—for kids and adults!
What’s In A Bag: The Best Lunch Boxes Are NOT Toxic
You know the drill when it comes to looking at lunch boxes. They’re all basically the same, right? Wrong! While it seems that the days of brown paper bags have definitely given over to hotsy totsy character and themed lunch boxes and bags, they are not all the same. In fact, many lunchboxes and plastic containers we use for lunch are full of toxic substances like lead (yes, for real), PVC and BPA. These are not only horrible for you and your food, they’re terrible for your planet too.
Not long ago, a report about the dangers of kids’ lunchboxes was released. The Center for Health, Environment & Justice, along with Sen. Charles Schumer, released the report. It shared that many of the fun and must-have vinyl lunch boxes your kid screams for contain high levels of phthalates. The federal government banned phthalates in toys in 2008.
The report found that of 20 products tested, 75% contained elevated levels of phthalataes, which are used to soften polyvinyl chloride (PVC). They’re also found in tons of other stuff–food packaging, detergents, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Before the government banned them in children’s toys, they were often found in pacifiers and teethers, which meant kids were ingesting that toxin.
Sen. Schumer said at the time of the report’s release that kids shouldn’t take lunch boxes laden with toxic chemicals, and we completely concur. Neither should adults. Thankfully, nowadays, they don’t have to, as there are many eco-friendly containers for lunches, as well as eco-friendly accessories that are good to consumers and to the planet.
The bottom line is you don’t want to have your meal rubbing cheese with toxic lead, vinyl, BPA, phthalates and more. Nor do you want to have lunchware that does the same. It’s easy enough today to find sustainable and reusable products that take care of you and your Mother Earth, and allow you to pack quality lunches for your loved ones.
Go ahead and say goodbye to the standard vinyl. Trust us, your kid may miss Elsa on her lunch box, but she won’t miss the endocrine disrupters in the vinyl that she’s exposed to daily in her lunch.
The Best Lunch Boxes For Everyone
Hydro Flask is all about getting rid of single-use products and producing reusable items that carry provisions for your family members (and they were doing this before VSCO was a thing!). They like to shake things up with their fresh color palettes, but more, they want to make sure that your lunch stayes nice and cold while being carried in a safe container. Their Insulated Lunch Tote keeps contents hot or cold, and it’s a nice large size for carrying what you need, but collapsible for travel- and storage-friendliness. It’s BPA-free and water resistant but easy to clean. It’s the perfect tote for taking to the beach or to work (where you wish you were at the beach) and Hydro Flask’s charitable giving program, Parks For All, supports the development, maintenance and accessibility of public green spaces so people everywhere can live healthier, happier and more fulfilled lives. Isn’t that what we’re all looking to do?
This Colorado-based company was founded by two moms who believed that with the right gear? Children and their families can set out for days and days that are filled with exploring and learning and making memories that last. They make gorgeous backpacks with fun prints and the right fit for kids, and their lunchboxes match (because they’re better together!). They’re water-resistant with a PEVA interior and we adore the fact that Wanderwild has a heart for serving kids and families in need. A portion of each sale of their lunch boxes and backpacks goes to organizations that fight childhood hunger, and advocate for education needs and spreading kindness. Good for your family and good for humanity!
Lone Cone’s insulated lunch boxes are the perfect sizes for lunches! The zippers have big pulls for easy opening and managing at lunch time, and they have a ton of fun and festive designs that boys and girls love. They feature a name tag inside, a wipe-clean interior, a no-spill drink holder and a double layer of insulation to make sure your lunch is fresh and delicious. Their XLarge lunch box is perfect size for even Planet Box bentos, and in super fun colors and patterns too. We love that they give back to their local community’s kids in lunchboxes and bookbags—helping take care of the needs of their community with their purposed intention. Love!
You know, sometimes you may just want to take a regular old ‘sack’ to lunch. HA. EcoLunch Box’s organic cotton sacks are anything but regular and old. At ECOLunchBox, they believe that getting rid of plastic protects our health and the health of the planet. They recognize it may be impossible to banish plastic from the world forever, but we CAN make lunch a lot cleaner, using stainless steel, wood or glass containers and putting them in fun little organic cloth sacks like these. Founder Sandra Ann Harris thought that deciding what was a ‘good’ plastic alternative vs. a ‘bad’ one was tough, so why not get into stainless and cotton for ease and sustainability. And seriously, are these the cutest bags ever or what?
Aren’t these bags gorgeous? That’s because talented artists created them with the belief that collaborating together with talents, creativity, culture and craftmanship can do some amazing things. Lo and behold, they were right, as these insulated lunch bags are beautiful AND they support causes around the globe. They have a small team of artists who embrace our global connection. Artovida matches contributions by our artists every time they donate a portion of their royalties to the following causes: The Loggerhead Marine Life Center, Lighthouse Relief, Umijoo Book Project, World Summit, Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Pacific Whale Foundation. Their goal is to create a partnership with creative people around the world, and we’re the winners in that campaign!
MadeResusable works with the concept of making things that can be reused and from reusable materials. Novel, huh? And in that, their Canvas Reusable Lunch Box is a lovely eco-friendly option. The bag is 100% biodegradeable, and made with waxed canvas, is also waterproof. There is nothing toxic or plastic-based you need to worry about, and it can even be put inthe washing machine! It’s also stain-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about little jelly hands ruining it. And, MadeReusable gives 1% of their sales to Oceana, which is a company that commits itself to taking care of the world’s oceans. With all the plastic pollution that exists in them? They need all the help we can give!
Apple Park was founded in San Francisco by Angie Tang, Susan Pate and Chloe Pate. They had a mission with a to create environmentally responsible and luxurious products for babies and children from organic, sustainable and recycled materials. They recognized that serious medical issues like asthma and allergies were being linked to chemicals in the environments of children and committed to making their products from 100% organic cotton and non-carcinogenic materials. Apple Park defines their brand, as Apple stands for a new beginning, the life cycle, nature, love, education and curiosity. Meanwhile, Park references the place where humans collaborate with nature to preserve and enjoy the beauty. They work to create sustainable, stimulating and recyclable materials that are AZO dye-free, non-toxic, non-phthalate and have no synthetic pesticides or polyester fillings. The folks at Apple Park are concerned about the health of babies, children and the enivronment, as well as social issues that are connected with conventional farming. This lunch sack is fun and adorable, and safe for your kids and the earth. Go Green!
This expandable lunch box is free of BPA, PVC, Lead and phtalates, and the interior linings are FDA and CPSC compliant. ArcticZone goes well beyond legal compliance for safety with their own safety standards, though, as they know your family’s health and safety are paramount.
And they know that sometimes lunch boxes can get pretty…icky, so they have Microban antimicrobial protection that’s built into the lining of the lunch box to inhibit the growth of bacteria. Say goodbye to those nasty odors and stains, and don’t fret about bacteria growing and contaminating your lunch. It’s easy to clean, has double pockets for ice packs to keep things super cool and has easy-to-adjust straps that make it comfy to carry!
Eco-Friendly Accessories For The Best Lunch Boxes
You may have the best lunch boxes or lunch bags, but you need the best accessories as well. Check out our faves:
ECOlunchbox was founded in 2009, and few knew of the dangers of plastic to our bodies (ahem, though WE did). The folks at ECOlunchbox know plastic is poisoning our bodies and our oceans. Back then, the world didn’t know much about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and all the pieces of plastic trash like we do now (though many still don’t seem to care too much, sigh) and yet ECOLunchbox knew that reducing dependence on plastics would be a way to protect our oceans AND our health!
Hence, these stainless eco-friendly lunch containers were born, and they make the perfect containers for little lunchers who like to graze (or eat full-on meals, they come in various sizes!). These have three different sections with different capacities and they fit perfectly in those adorable organic cotton lunch sacks we referenced above. Picky eaters love them because foods don’t have to touch!
Please, please tell us you’re not still using plastic utensils anymore? Please? And if you are, please step away from the plastic forks! You have better alternatives, and they’re in the form of reusable bamboo utensils. This kit has a knife, fork and spoon with a sweet little carrying case. You can rewash and reuse regularly, and bamboo is sustainable and eco-friendly. Reusable bamboo utensils are eco-friendly and protect you from putting any food on a toxic piece of plastic, only to shovel into your (or your child’s) mouth. When we tell you to shop now, we mean it on this one! No more plastic cutlery!
In 2012, mom of three Sarah Kaeck founded Bee’s Wrap. At that time, she was wondering how they could eliminate plastics in their kitchen to have fresher, healthier ways to store their delicious garden and fresh foods. She began infusing organic cotton with beeswax, organic jojoba oil and tree resin, and voila! A reusable, washable and compostable option instead of that horrid plastic wrap so many cling to still. Sarah began by doing each wrap herself, and she’s grown her business as a force for good in the world. Bee’s Wrap gives back both locally and globally, and they focus most of their philanthropy on three areas: supporting the bees, ending plastic pollution and giving back to their local community. They partner with The Bee Cause Project, which puts observation hives in schools all across the country. They feel morally obligated to turn back the damage that plastic pollution has done to the earth. And, as they proudly call Vermont their home, they work to enrich and strengthen their local community.
And they do all this while they’re taking care of your family too.
FinalStraw is an environmentally friendly and sustainable straw that you can take ANYwhere, but is perfect for the best lunch boxes! It’s a reusable, collapsible straw that comes in a sleek carrying case and it was engineered to attach to your keyring. That makes it also attachable (for the most part) to just about any lunch box out there, and with every pop out of the case, FinalStraw is working to find the solution to plastic pollution. Since they launched in 2018, they’ve prevented approximately 70 million single-use straws from coming into the environment. They also are a member of 1% For The Planet, and as such, they support plastic awareness campaigns, plastic pollution policy and legislation and children’s educational programs.
You’re going to want one for every lunch box and every member in your family to take everywhere you go.