eco-friendly-lunch-box

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An eco-friendly lunch box can be a great way to keep your meals fresh when on the go. If you’re into meal prepping, nothing is sadder than wrapping your lunch in a Ziploc bag. Sure, it can be convenient, but it’s wasteful and limits your capacity. Let’s explore some of the best non-toxicreusable lunch containers and insulated lunch bags on the market to keep your food fresh and make your friends jealous.

Also interested in our pick for the Best Biodegradable Trash Bags? Learn more about our extensive research here!

Say No To Sad Lunches

 A paper bag is a better option, but then you can’t always rely on a sandwich to get you through the day. You’d probably want to pack in a healthy salad someday, and a paper bag won’t cut it.

eco-friendly-lunch-box
Paper bags
Photo Credit: BlackSalmon

Fortunately, we’re in luck. There are many great brands wit eco-friendly lunch boxes.

There are certain benefits to packing your meals in a lunch box. For one thing, you can have more variety in your meals. If you bring soups or stews, the ever possible leak won’t be so worrisome. You can also portion your meal easily, which is handy, especially if you’ve got nutritional goals to achieve.

Most importantly, it’s a sustainable way of minimizing your eco-footprint. With the world’s oceans grappling with plastic pollution and our forests falling victim to deforestation, any effort to reduce your impact goes a long way to letting the environment heal itself.


Best Overall Eco-Friendly Lunch Box

Edo by Eco-Life


Pros

  • Outer lid and box dishwasher safe; inner lid handwash only
  • Leakproof
  • Fits standard-sized school or work bag
  • Customer service seems prompt, or at least, they respond to inquiries and requests for replacement on their product page

Cons

  • Product lifespan estimate around 2-3 years due to the wheat fiber material
  • Internal divider not removable
  • Not to be used for conventional ovens; otherwise, the resins holding the wheat fiber together will melt

It’s 70% made of wheat fiber. While that doesn’t qualify as biodegradable because technical standards require a biodegradable product to degrade in 1 year, it will degrade in 2 years, which is heck-of-a-lot faster than plastic.

I also like this because the compartments are big enough to hold an adult-sized meal. It also has a small hole in the center of the tray, which is handy for storing sauces. It’s BPA-free, and the inner lid has a silicone seal so that it’s airtight and spill-free.

The company is California based, but unfortunately, it is manufactured in China (because it’s probably cheaper there). The quality seems high, though; there are many more positive reviews on their product page than complaints. Bento Box partners with 
OneTreePlanted so for each purchase, they plant one tree in the wildfire-stricken slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. 


Runner Up

BKLYN Bento


Pros

  • 20% larger than standard bento boxes
  •  Lightweight, Durable, can last for years
  • It comes with a neoprene bag that can fit the containers and then some.
  • The container is BPA, PVC, and plastic-free.

Cons

  • Not leakproof
  • Not Microwaveable
  • Contrary to popular belief, “green” neoprene may not be eco-friendly.

If you want an eco-friendly lunch box that you can use for years and even pass it down to your young’ uns, consider getting one made with lightweight, stainless steel like this bento lunch box from Bklynbento.

Unlike the Edo box, this is a 3 Tier Tiffin Food Container Lunch box. These lunch containers can hold about 1-1/8 cups, the middle container can store 2 cups, and the bottom holds 2-1/ cups. And because it’s bulky, it comes with its neoprene bag.

This product prides itself on having no plastic or rubber-based material, which means it’s not leakproof. Don’t store your soup here, but if you’re having a lunch salad with dressing, it’ll be fine.

Bntobrklyn, the brand, shares its story of how its founders got the idea to make a bento box when they were participating in a fundraising adventure in India. Fast forward to today: there’s no mention of any CSR project in India; instead, for every proof of purchase ( a photo of your Bntobrklyn box), they will feed a child through the SharetheMeal program of the United Nations World Food Programme.

Also Rans:

Waxed Canvas Reusable Lunch Bag -100% Biodegradable, Eco friendly and Waterproof, For Women and Men by Made Reusable

For those in need of a bag to store their meals, this waxed canvas lunch bag might be for you.

This bag comes in a stylish print that will appeal to the inner fashionista. It’s lightweight with durable seaming and stitched to allow it to stand upright. Plus, it has a tie to keep the bag closed.

Cleaning it is easy; just wipe it with a damp cloth. It is also stain-resistant and waterproof.

Made Reusable is an American brand headquartered in Massachusets. They support initiatives in saving the world’s oceans by donating 1% of their profits to Oceana.

What’s To Love

  • Large enough to hold fruit, a sandwich, and a small Tupperware sized container
  • BPA, PVC, and plastic-free
  • Animal cruelty-free; The company uses ethically sourced beeswax
  • Made in the USA

Could Be Better

  • Not insulated; this is just really for carrying dry goods and food containers
  • Made from non-organic cotton

Glass Food Storage Containers with Eco Friendly, Sustainable Bamboo Lids, Set of 4. Plastic Free, BPA Free. Includes Bamboo Cutlery & Adjustable Wrap. Glass Bento Box Great for Meal Prep (assorted)

This set of 4 uses bamboo, glass, and silicone as material for the containers. The bamboo lid has grooves so that it won’t slide when it’s stacked. The lunch bag uses durable borosilicate, one of the most robust glasses out in the market. Silicone creates an airtight seal to keep the food fresh.

It has a bamboo spoon and fork with an adjustable wrap if you want to use the containers for a lunch box. As a food storage container, the glass can withstand cold and heat thoroughly, from -20 to 400F.

The brand specializes in creating gourmet kitchen and dining products. While looking at their site, I could not find any info about where they source their bamboo and glass. They don’t seem to have any CSR program, either.

What’s To Love

  • BPA, PVC, and plastic-free
  • Comes in four sizes that will fit most of your food storage needs
  • Their “No Plastic” ethos extends to the packaging of their products

Could Be Better

  • Not entirely microwaveable; leave the bamboo lids out of the microwave
  • Not entirely dishwasher-friendly either; clean the bamboo lid by hand only
  • Needs to be handled the first time carefully; bamboo lid must be lifted slowly for the first time as not to dislodge the silicone seal
  • No CSR program for the environment
  • Slightly expensive

Navaris Bento Box – Japanese Style Lunch Box with Bamboo Lid for On The Go, Meal Prep, Snack Packing – BPA Free – Black, 37 oz

This lunch box uses bamboo fiber, and the lid is made from bamboo with a silicone seal to keep it airtight. The elastic strap that helps keep the box closed is attached to the bamboo lid and is not removable, which may be inconvenient for anyone washing the container. 

 Although being the smallest bento box among the five on this list, it’s longer and slimmer. It’s more suited for bringing leftovers for lunch at the office or for bringing side dishes. But if you’re trying to lose weight and need to rely on portion control, this bento box will do the trick.

 The brand is German-based, specializing in e-commerce. They have offices in China and may manufacture the product there. I reached out to the company for more information about this and will update when I hear back.

What’s To Love

  • BPA, PVC, and plastic-free; biodegradable
  • Simple and stylish design
  •  Very airtight
  •  Very affordable

Could Be Better

  • Not microwaveable; handwash only
  • Bamboo may crack if it accidentally falls to the floor
  • Does not include cutlery
  • No CSR program for the environment

 What to Look For

 Lunch boxes come in all sizes and materials. In the 80s, metal lunch boxes were all the rage. In recent years, plastic and vinyl became popular because they were convenient (they’re light) and were easy to mass-produce until they began polluting the environment.

 So before getting an eco-friendly lunch box, consider these four issues:

Features

There is an eco-friendly lunch box to cover all of your needs. If you’re a sandwich lover, it has you covered with either one or two places. If you’re into fresh greens, pick one that will allow you to store everything you need to prepare your salad. And that includes your vinaigrette.

Or you can pick a bento box. The bento box was all the rage back then among school kids, but hey, there’s no reason adults can get in the fun. They’re practical and convenient. Because they’ve got compartments, you can pack every food group into it with the right portions to get a balanced meal.

Materiality

While anything outside of plastic can potentially be a sustainable material for an eco-friendly lunch box, keep in mind that you have to consider the food you want to store.

For instance, bamboo lunch boxes are very chic and on-trend with the sustainability issue. They’re easy to clean, stain-resistant and durable, but also bio-degradable. But they’re only suitable dry foods. Not every bamboo lunch box is leakproof, so you can’t store your soup, stews, and possibly even dressings.

Glass is more suited for liquid food. Glass lunch box makers typically use the same materials as the Pyrex brand glassware, making them incredibly strong with the bonus of handling temperature well. They are also easy to clean and are microwaveable.

Fabric lunch bags make for a great eco-alternative. An insulated lunch bag will retain heat and cold exceptionally well. They’re washable and collapsible, making it possible to bring them anywhere.

Stainless Steel lunch boxes may evoke childhood nostalgia, and they’re pragmatic too. They’re more durable, lightweight, and leak proof. The downside is, they’re just not microwaveable.

Green Certification

Perhaps the most critical factor in buying an eco-friendly lunch box, is whether the company has the certifications to back their promise. Just because they’re marketing as eco-friendly isn’t an assurance that the production processes they are using are actually environment friendly.

For instance, stainless steel production can also cause a significant amount of carbon emissions. But if they’re certified green, they’ll be using recycled stainless steel to produce their product.

Corporate Responsibility

Do they walk their green talk? Do they give back to the communities where they sourced their raw materials? Do they have good work practices? Do they support environmental causes by giving back a portion of their profits? Those are questions that you should also look into when choosing your eco-friendly lunch box.

Value

No matter how well designed it is or how sustainable the material is, the product’s price also plays a role in your decision. And while eco-friendly products may tend to be pricey, you can always consider it an investment in a greener future. Considering that the average American discards 185 pounds of plastic annually, buying an eco-friendly lunch box can undoubtedly reduce that big of a plastic footprint.

Final Thoughts:

 Overall, Eco-Life Home Design’s Edo Bento Box is our pick for the best eco-friendly lunch box because of it’s affordability and convenience, whether you’re an adult or a child.

 It’s lightweight but sturdy, leakproof and microwaveable, and just the right size for storing a meal fit for a grown-up. While the company is manufacturing in China, it is strict on quality control, and I don’t think that durability will be compromised.

 I also like that for every purchase of their product, they plant a tree with their partner OneTreePlanted.

And while it may have a shorter lifespan than most of the products on this list, I don’t mind purchasing every three years if only to reinforce the habit of using bio-degradable products and keep my carbon footprint low. Also, with my purchase, the company gets to continue plant trees to reforest our mountain slopes. And that’s going a long way into helping mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.

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