Packing plastic is second nature for many, but it’s worth the effort to rely on more sustainable choices, like these reusable school lunch supplies that are not only better for the environment (and human health), but better for your wallet in the long run.
What did your child have for lunch yesterday? Did you pull some cold cuts out of a plastic bag? Or maybe you microwaved some leftovers in a reusable plastic container? Did he or she drink water from a plastic cup or plastic water bottle?
Now that it’s back to school season, it is time to rethink your child’s lunchtime gear. While we all know by now that single use plastic straws are bad, new studies about microplastic are revealing that plastic consumer products may be even more damaging than we realized. Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that are being found in high concentrations in our food and water due to the disposal and breakdown of various consumer products. The average American is ingesting at least 74,000 microplastic particles each year. Very few studies have been conducted to examine if microplastics impact human health, but previous studies have shown that phthalates and BPA, chemicals used in the production of plastic, can increase the risk of cancer and affect hormone levels. The effects can be even stronger in children, who are still growing and developing.
While it’s easy to feel helpless, there are many new products available to help eliminate plastic from your child’s lunchbox, including the lunchbox itself. By swapping out your old plastic products for the stainless steel, silicone, cloth, beeswax, and bamboo products below, you can help your child put their best foot forward in the cafeteria and be a young champion for a healthier and more sustainable planet.
Stainless steel is the perfect reusable, safe alternative to plastic. We love PlanetBox’s Rover lunchbox because it comes with five compartments, is dishwasher safe, and has customizable decorative magnets that your kid will love to show off. Choose from over two dozen options like Robots, Horses, and Fairies. (While they don’t have hinged lids or come with magnets, you can find similar metal bento boxes on Amazon.)Buy Now
Abeego, The Original Beeswax Food Storage Wrap – Set of Six 7″ Natural Square Sheets, $18.00 on Amazon
Say goodbye to plastic wrap, which can contain harmful PVC that can cause a host of unwanted health problems. Abeego’s Food Storage wraps come in a variety of sizes, last over a year, can be washed, and are biodegradable and compostable when you’re ready for a new one. We love the fun food print and that they smell faintly of honey.Buy Now
Need a place to put a sandwich, a bunch of grapes, or a handful of pretzels? Stasher bags, made of silicone, are dishwasher and microwave safe. They come in five sizes from pocket-sized to half gallon, in nearly a dozen different colors and designs. This sandwich bag with a circus print is a perfect addition to any kid’s lunch ensemble.Buy Now
Although paper napkins aren’t contributing to the microplastics problem, they are still piling up in landfills. According to the EPA, the average child generates 67 pounds of waste per school year. Help cut down on that figure with these cloth napkins that come in nearly 50 prints, from seahorses to ice cream.Buy Now
Ditch the plastic water bottle for more durable stainless steel. Klean Kanteen makes a child-sized version of its best-selling water bottle with whimsical prints, including this marshmallow-roasting dragon. They also make a version with a sippy cup-style spout for younger mouths.Buy Now
Need a way to keep your child’s lunch cold without using a plastic ice pack? This stainless-steel ice pack freezes in two hours and stays cold for 4-6 hours, the perfect amount of time from home to lunch time.Buy Now
Eliminate single use plastic cutlery with a set of their own in a brightly colored carrying case. Bamboo is a sustainable, fast growing grass that contains natural antibacterial properties.Buy Now
Want to pack a special treat? Alter Eco uses biodegradable packaging for their line of responsibly sourced chocolates and snacks. These truffles are the perfect size to pop into a lunchbox. Eat one yourself—you earned it for being such a sustainable plastic-free lunchtime champion! (Also available on Amazon.)Buy Now
Visit our Back-to-School Guide for everything else you need to know.
Header image courtesy of LunchBots / Amazon